Second chance at glory

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

They say everybody deserves a second chance.

But that doesn't mean they get one.

Montreal Alouettes kicker Damon Duval did in last Sunday's Grey Cup.

Just as often, though, you get your one shot at glory, and that's it.

That's why the phone call that woke up junior hockey player Travis Hamonic at 8 a.m. yesterday left a smile that was still pasted on his face nine hours later.

A 19-year-old from St. Malo, Man., Hamonic is getting another chance to make Team Canada for a World Junior Hockey Championship, this one in Saskatoon and Regina, right after Christmas.

A late cut from the team a year ago, the defenceman for the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors has been invited to the final selection camp again, beginning in Regina, a week from Saturday.

"Obviously it was in the back of my mind the last couple of days," Hamonic told Sun Media from Moose Jaw. "I knew the list was coming out, and I didn't have the best of sleeps. But as soon as I got the call I kind of rolled over and went back to bed pretty nicely for the next couple of hours. I was just really excited."

A little more than a year ago, he was just really crushed.

The wakeup call that day sparked one of the worst days of his life.

Hamonic took that feeling, chewed on it for a while then turned himself into the player he is today: one of the top defencemen in Canadian junior hockey.

"For me, there were two ways to go," Hamonic said. "I could have rolled up in a ball and been frustrated and p----d off. Or I could turn the corner like I did. I added to my repertoire a bit.

"I always say sometimes you've got to learn how to lose before you can win. You've got to be on the bottom to see what it's like on top. I've learned a lot from that experience."

Not just learned from it, but used it. "There's still that little bit of oomph and bite in me to make sure I go out there and prove I deserve a spot this year."

Seven goals, 28 assists in 29 games certainly caught the eye of Team Canada scouts.

But there's more to Hamonic's game than stats.

Last year's disappointment and a sub-par season by the Warriors seems to have brought out the leader in him.

"I came back with a lot of weight on my shoulders this year," he said. "I really wanted to prove to people that not only was Travis Hamonic a new player and that he's going to do whatever he can, but that our team in Moose Jaw is a better team. I wanted to prove to people that I could take on a bigger responsibility."

Hamonic is one of three Manitobans to get a crack at this year's world junior team.

Forwards Cody Eakin (Swift Current Broncos) and Scott Glennie (Brandon Wheat Kings), both of Winnipeg, are the others. Brayden Schenn of the Wheaties, who's from Saskatoon, also got the call.

All will be skating on air for the next week and a half.

"It's something I've wanted all my life," Eakin, 18, said. "I grew up watching it. I'm going to work my heart out, give it everything I've got."

Eakin isn't counting on his formidable goal-scoring ability to earn him a spot, either. He's ready to pick up the lunch pail and be a role player.

"When you get to a calibre like that, everyone can score goals," he said.

Hamonic says he'll fill the darn water bottles to get a spot.

"My whole life growing up, I wouldn't look forward to Christmas -- I would look forward to Boxing Day to watch the tournament," Hamonic said. "It would mean so much to me, and it would mean so much to my family, as well. If I'd make it, I'd be at a loss for words. I'm just smiling ear-to-ear to get the chance."

The second chance.

No, not everybody gets, or even deserves, one.

But Hamonic has earned his.

The rest is up to him.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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