Veteran Hitmen d-man solid as Stone

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

Don't blame Michael Stone for being honest.

Most players won't admit to drawing inspiration from being snubbed.

They'll spew cliches like 'I'm focused on what I'm doing right now' or 'I don't worry about things I can't control.'

Stone is different.

He didn't received an invite to Team Canada's summer evaluation camp for world junior hopefuls. He isn't happy about it. And he isn't shy about admitting he thinks about it on a regular basis.

"Every day," he said. "I was disappointed when I didn't get invited to that summer camp.

"I'm going to continue to work every day to hopefully get an invite to the camp this winter.

"I want to make an impression and somehow find my way onto that team."

Stone and the Hitmen dropped a 5-1 decision to the Saskatoon Blades last night at the Saddledome. Tyler Fiddler scored the home side's lone goal.

Stone, whose Hitmen host the Portland Winterhawks today (2 p.m., Fan 960), doesn't have too far to look to find inspiration for making a successful late push for the world junior squad.

Brett Sonne didn't receive an invite last year. But he led the WHL in scoring over the first three months and earned his Maple Leaf.

"With his performance the first part of last season, he played his way onto that team, for sure," Stone said of last season's WHL MVP.

"He wasn't a big name going in. But the way he worked, killed penalties, and brought energy to that team was real good.

"Hopefully, I can follow in his footsteps."

And Sonne wasn't the only Hitmen who was a late addition to Team Canada.

Goaltender Justin Pogge was also left off the list for the summer camp prior to the 2005-06 campaign.

Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson said he thinks Stone will get the opportunity to make his case in December.

"He's playing a lot of minutes right now, and I'd like to see him play with a little more urgency," Williamson said.

"But when he's on the ice, I haven't seen a defenceman in the league who's better than he is. So I would think he has a good chance of at least being in the running to contend for a spot on the world junior team."

Having world junior bench boss Willie Desjardins just down the road coaching the Medicine Hat Tigers, can only boost Stone's chances.

The Hitmen co-captain put up eight points through his first nine games.

And he's the undisputed rock (or is that Stone?) on a young Hitmen blueline.

But he's not completely satisfied with his play so far.

"I wouldn't say I've done as much as I could be doing," the Phoenix Coyotes prospect said. "But I feel pretty comfortable with what's happening.

"Our D has really stepped up to the plate. There were some question marks, but we responded quite well.

"I know I can be better. We all can be better."

Stone isn't one to peel the paint off the dressing room wall, but he said he's becoming more vocal as he settles into his leadership role.

"I'm working on my speaking skills," the soft-spoken Stone said with a grin.

"I'm not one to talk a lot. The guys who have been here for a few years realize I don't say too much."

SCOTT.FISHER@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos