Something in the Air(drie)

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

CALGARY -- Even a couple of stargazing kids couldn't have dreamt it would work out this way.

Zach Boychuk and Dana Tyrell grew up together in Airdrie, Alta.

The fact the small city on the outskirts of Calgary with a population of less than 30,000 would produce two WHL players is extraordinary.

But two world junior stars? Against all odds.

"It's pretty special," Tyrell said of his hometown. "And it would be even more special if we both make the (national junior) team. That's what we're striving for."

Boychuk, who stars for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, said the two are close friends.

"I'm really good friends with him," Boychuk said. "I grew up with him and played summer hockey with him. Then I moved to Airdrie about five years ago and played bantam and midget with him.

"We carpooled to the rink pretty much every day."

Tyrell, who leads the Prince George Cougars in scoring with 33 points this season, said the pair struck up a bond almost immediately and became inseparable.

"I lived right in Airdrie, he lived just outside," Tyrell said. "We went to school together, carpooled, trained together all summer."

The pair hope to create even more memories over the Christmas break at the world junior tournament in the Czech Republic.

But, for this week anyways, they're not on speaking terms.

"He's on the other team so we're kind of enemies right now," said Boychuk, who is trying to earn a spot on Canada's world junior squad while playing on Team Red during selection camp.

Tyrell, on Team White, confirmed the two are temporary enemies.

"A little bit," he said with a smile. "When we're on the ice, it's competitive and we know we both have to earn a spot."

Tyrell, a second-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was concerned he wouldn't get the chance to compete for a spot.

He wrenched his knee during a game in Calgary Dec. 2 and was terrified the injury might keep him from attending the selection camp.

"I was pretty scared but luckily it turned out to be not too bad," he said. "I just landed on it the wrong way but I had a week to recover and everything is fine now.

"It's almost 100 percent. It's not affecting my skating, and everything seems to be going well on the ice."

Boychuk and Tyrell have already donned the Maple Leaf during last summer's Super Series.

The 'Canes sniper, who is expected to be chosen high at the 2008 draft, said just getting to know the players on that team will help once the world junior squad is chosen.

"All the chemistry we built together as a team with those 25 guys, we're bringing that out here," he said. "It's shown in the games and the practices.

"I think it really helps to be familiar with everybody. If you know more guys, you won't be as shy in the dressing room and you speak up a bit more."

Both players said they're willing to accept any role the coaching staff gives them.

"The coaching staff is looking for two-way guys," Boychuk said. "A lot of guys here, with their club teams, are strictly offensive players who play a lot on the powerplay.

"But here, you need to backcheck hard and play on the penalty kill and do whatever the role is that they give you."

Said Tyrell: "The coaches put you in different situations, and you have to play whatever role they want you to," he said. "Scorers have to be checkers. They might want checkers to be scorers.

"You have to do whatever you can on the ice."


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