As captain for the Medicine Hat Tigers, forward Hunter Shinkaruk doesn't consider himself to be the loudest guy in the locker room.

He prefers getting his point across in other ways.

"Every day when I come to the rink, I want to make sure I'm the best player in practice … enhancing my game and being a good example to my teammates in the process," Shinkaruk told NHL.com.

Shinkaruk's passion for the game is contagious, no doubt. The smile on his face each time he steps on the ice is as palpable as the determined effort he'll provide each and every shift during a game.

"Every time I'm at the rink I'm in a positive mood and I just love to be out there, and I think that type of attitude really rubs off on my teammates," he said. "I'm always trying to make sure that I'm the best to kind of set a standard for the younger guys to feed off. Even though I'm wearing the 'C', we have a great locker room full of leaders and we all help each other."

Medicine Hat head coach Shaun Clouston is a witness to Shinkaruk's love for hockey each and every day.

"Whether it's a practice, game or workout, he rarely doesn't have a smile on his face," Clouston said. "He doesn't take anything for granted and is a great example to the younger guys."

That's important, too, particularly since Medicine Hat has a league-high 11 first-year players in the lineup.

Make no mistake, the 18-year-old center is the sparkplug to the engine. In 29 games for Medicine Hat this season, Shinkaruk is averaging 1.48 points. He has 19 goals, 43 points and a plus-2 rating despite being in the cross-hairs of every opposing coach devising a game plan. He also has 16 points on the power play and a team-high two game-winning goals.

Not surprisingly, the 5-foot-10.25, 181-pound Shinkaruk is considered the No. 2-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for players in the Western Hockey League. Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones, who could very well go No. 1 at the 2013 NHL Draft, is the league's top-rated skater.