Pysyk has come a long way

DAVID CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Mark Pysyk is practically a veteran now.

Talent was never going to hold the Sherwood Park product back and he made the Edmonton Oil Kings as a 16-year-old straight out of rookie camp.

Forgive him if it seems like a long time ago.

"I was just thinking about it -- that's exactly where we were last year. And we were thinking, 'This is unbelievable,' " Pysyk said at the Jubilee Centre in Fort Saskatchewan yesterday on the first day of the WHL's club's main training camp.

"That's your first taste of playing with guys four and five years older. And now you've got a year under your belt, you're more confident and playing more calm out there."

Calmness is already a staple of Pysyk's game, logging large ice time on the back end alongside veteran Adrian Van de Mosselaer, earning rookie-of-the-year honours.

Pysyk also earned time as captain of the western Under-17 team in the national tournament and recently returned with gold after playing for Team Canada's U-18 squad.

"When you're playing with guys like that, it helps. If you make a mistake, they are right there to help you.

"You play with more confidence, then you're doing better things on the ice."

St. Albert's Travis Ewanyk is practically a veteran rookie.

As a 15-year-old last year he was in the right place at the right time as an injury replacement during the Kings' late-season run for a playoff spot and into the opening-round loss against the No. 1 Calgary Hitmen.

His play earned him more than a roster-filling spot at the end of the bench.

"But nothing's guaranteed this year," he said yesterday.

"It helped a lot -- the whole experience last year with the camp and then at the end of the season.

"There was no pressure last year and now there is pressure and definitely higher expectations. And I'm going to try and do my best to meet those.

"I thought I played pretty well, thought I grew into my game a bit. Felt more comfortable playing in the league. That's a big step. But I know I have to build even on that."

That's why the Oil Kings carry over a selection of rookies into the main camp.

"A lot of the guys, especially the 15 year olds, it's about a little more of the experience," said head coach Steve Pleau.

"It's to expose them to more speed, strength, skill. It's good for them. It's a grind. They played a lot in rookie camp and now they've got to come here. They've got to take the most they can out of it."


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