Alzner, Irving get tickets punched

MIKE BELL, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

The grin etched on Karl Alzner's mug said it all.

It was a smile you couldn't wipe off if you had a stick of dynamite and a box of matches.

"Best day of my life so far," said the Calgary Hitmen defenceman after being informed he made Team Canada. "I came downstairs and all the guys were saying how big the smile on my face was."

Truth be told, the Burnaby, B.C., native didn't think he'd get the opportunity to represent his country, fully expecting to be cut from the roster, especially considering the wealth of veteran talent vying for the seven spots on the blueline.

"I was preparing for the worst," said the 18-year-old, who is one of only two d-men who didn't win gold with the juniors last year in Vancouver. "I had my bags packed in front of the door ready to go just in case.

"(Once I found out) I started to call everybody that I knew and let them know I'm not going to be home for Christmas. But to get the chance to go and play for your country, that's the price I'm willing to pay."

Actually, it's the price he was willing to pay with his 6-ft. 2-in, 209-lb. frame that likely earned him the job.

"That's what I specialize in," he said, noting he threw himself in front of all the rubber he could in Thursday's final camp tilt. "I just had faith in my skills and tried to let them take over."

Calgary Flames prospect Leland Irving took much the same approach to earning one of the two Team Canada goaltending spots, overcoming what he admits, was a nervous start to this week's camp.

"I was a little bit inconsistent," said the Swan Hills, Alta., product. "There were times I put a little too much pressure on myself, I was trying to do too much but soon I was able to fix my game and stop a few pucks."

With the camp in Calgary, the spotlight was on Irving as fans and media got a close look at the Flames' first-round pick, 26th overall, from this year's draft.

Irving, who still has to win the starting job, said it didn't affect him.

"I think I put enough pressure on myself. I don't feel it as much from the Flames fans and the people around me in Calgary," he said.

"I'm just trying to go out there and be at the top of my game each and every night."


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