July 20th, 2024

Szabo seeing the upside of Oil Kings through rebuild

By Lethbridge Herald on March 14, 2024.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward John Szabo is seen here competing against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Now in his third season with the club, Lethbridge’s John Szabo sees a lot of upside with the Edmonton Oil Kings through now almost two rebuilding seasons.

“It’s not easy obviously losing more games than we’d like,” said Szabo.

“But you got to focus on the positives and helping yourself and your teammates to get better every day, even though it might not show up in games. But next year and the year after, we’re looking to be a really good team and I think we’re having a really good development through a lot of players and it’s only going to help us for the future.”

The Oil Kings have been more competitive this season as they have 52 points with four games to go this season compared to 24 in all of last year.

“I think from the start of the year, we had a lot of belief in our group,” he said.

“Obviously, we’re not going to make the playoffs but we had aspirations throughout the whole year, and a lot of belief and that never left throughout the team.”

Edmonton went into this rebuild after winning the WHL Championship a couple of years ago.

“It’s taking what you learn from that team and that group of guys, and the culture that they had and they brought to the room and try and get the new guys on board with that,” said Szabo.

Szabo’s focus this year has been taking on more of a leadership role.

“I think the leadership role, for sure,” said Szabo.

“We have a young team, had a young team last year and I was one of the only guys that are left on this team now. It’s making sure guys are comfortable in the room and creating a new strong culture.”

Szabo thought when he was a younger player that it was tougher to find a groove and consistency.

“That’s something I’m still working at to do right now because it’s a good league, it’s tough to play in and tough to stay in,” he said.

“So I think just the consistency and giving our coach a reason to put me out there in important situations.”

Szabo said it’s been amazing, on his time Edmonton.

“They’re probably the best organization I’d say in the CHL,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of great player development, and obviously great facilities at Rogers (Place) and living in Edmonton’s been amazing. It’s like a second home to me now and I love being here and I love playing for the Oil Kings and being a part of this organization.”

He credits Lethbridge Minor Hockey  for everything up to this point in his career.

“I went through the whole system there, my whole minor hockey,” he said.

“And all my coaches, that I (had) from when I was in novice all the way to U18, they helped me out so much.”

The 18 year old has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) through 50 games.

The Oil Kings sit last in the Eastern Conference.

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