Chris Wahl – 02.05.24

To borrow from the ‘King of Country,’ you might say It Just Comes Natural for Sam Morton.

Since signing with the Flames in March, the 24-year-old centre has fit right in with the Wranglers, and he’s poised to play another big role this weekend when Calgary opens its best-of-five series against Coachella Valley Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. TICKETS

Morton captained his college team at Minnesota State-Mankato this past winter, earning Player of the Year honours for his conference after a 24-goal campaign.

He signed a one-year, two-way deal with Calgary after the Mavericks’ college season came to an end, and has looked every bit the part with the Wranglers since turning pro.

“I think I’m still adjusting, but at the same time this feels like home,” Morton said Wednesday morning after the Wranglers practiced at WinSport. “I feel like I’m part of a family right now that’s trying to do something special. Obviously, right now, all that’s on my mind is this Coachella series; it’s been an adjustment in terms of playing, but I feel like I’ve started to settle in and try to take care of some of the fundamentals, or some of the details that you need to be successful.”

Morton’s scoring touch has carried over to the pro ranks, too.

In 15 regular-season and playoff games, he’s lit the lamp six times – the most recent tally coming in the form of a powerplay marker last Friday in Calgary’s series clincher over Tucson.

Centring a line with William Stromgren and Adam Klapka, Morton has found success as a responsible, two-way forward – while the trio has offered fans a first-hand glimpse at the Flames organization’s future – live and in living colour.

They’re creative, they’re aggressive, but most of all, according to Morton, they’re communicative.

“I think we just have a bunch of guys that want to make plays. When you get back to the bench, guys are talking about where you could have found them, or where to be on the ice to get open,” he said. “(We’re) just trying to find each other to make plays, and produce offensive chances.”

It’s clear that Morton has earned the confidence of the Wranglers coaching staff, too.

He’s played in a top-six role since his arrival in Calgary, while earning regular duty on special teams thanks both to his willingness to get to the front of the net, but also his savvy in the faceoff dot.

“I’m super grateful, I’ve gotten a lot of opportunity and that’s been awesome,” Morton said of his first six weeks in the Flames organization. “I’m just trying to make the most of it, put my best foot forward, and try to do what I can to help this team win.”

No doubt, Morton and his teammates are glad to be back in southern Alberta – riding a bit of momentum from the two-game sweep of the Roadrunners, but also set to use home ice to their advantage after four straight contests away from the ‘Dome.

Even this early in his career, Morton’s got a bit of history against the Firebirds, having scored the decider in Calgary’s 2-0 shutout win over Coachella Valley the last time the two teams tangled in the regular season.

Safe to say he’s ready to don his finest chef’s hat for a bit more ‘Dome cooking come Friday night.

“It’s nice to be home, (it’s) nice to be going into the second round, that was the goal (at the start of the post-season),” he said.

“Coachella’s a good team, but we’re excited to rise to the occasion.”