Brett Kitt has a mission for the off-season.
The high-scoring Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings forward plans to barricade himself in the gym for the spring and summer, intent on making the jump to junior hockey next season.
Kitt’s preference is to play for the Western Hockey League’s Wheat Kings, who chose him in the fifth round of the 2011 bantam draft, although he also took part in the spring camp of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Neepawa Natives over the weekend.
"I want to make sure that I’m disciplined on my training," said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Kitt, who turned 17 in January.
"That’s going to be a big thing, making sure I get to the gym five days a week. …I’m going to be ready to go."
Kitt didn’t feel like he was ready to go last season. He was a little disappointed in his camp with the WHL’s Wheat Kings and said that experience will make him more prepared this time around.
"I went into my 15-year-old camp and I had a really strong camp and I felt good but then last camp, I didn’t have a great start and it was hard to finish off better," said Kitt, who plans to mix a little baseball with the Vincent Massey High School team in with his hockey training this spring.
"I know now I’ll have to go in right from the start and be aggressive and play hard right from the first practice."
Kitt felt like his slow start carried over into the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League season. He credits some extra work over the Christmas break with helping him find his stride for the second half.
"I went to a Dave Lewis skating camp over Christmas," he said. "It was just five days of hard skating and I came back after Christmas and I was feeling better. I think that’s what kind of turned it around."
Kitt finished the season 11th in league scoring, with 25 goals and 26 assists in 42 games. He added three goals and three assists in seven playoff contests as the Wheat Kings lost an agonizing four-game semifinal series to the Winnipeg Thrashers.
Brandon gave up two goals in the final 2:09 of the third game to lose by a goal, then dropped Game 4 in overtime.
It will take a lot of work in the gym this summer to forget the sting from that defeat.
"We had them, I think," Kitt lamented. "If we could have won that overtime game and then ended up winning that Game 5, we had them. We outshot them some games, we (averaged more than) four goals on them a game. We did our best; there’s nothing to hang our heads about."