Pysyk has national incentive

CRASH CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 PM ET

Pressure enough for you?

Imagine the pressure of getting invited to a training camp that features the elite of your level.

Imagine the pressure where you will not only be representing your country against the elite of your level from the rest of the world.

Imagine doing it under the nationís glare now that the World Junior tournament has become an annual television event over the holidays.

Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk is looking directly at that.

And a lot more.

If the 18-year-old defenceman makes the team, heíll be playing right in front of the very eyes of the NHL team that just drafted him.

Mind you, the Buffalo Sabres and their scouts would be in full attendance regardless as the tournament unfolds in their city, but there will definitely be extra focus on Pysyk.

ďYeah, thatís pretty cool and unique, I think,Ē Pysyk said Wednesday before suiting up for the Oil Kings game against the Prince Albert Raiders at Rexall Place.

ďI donít know how many times that has happened before, if it has, but itís pretty cool.Ē

And whether he does or doesnít stick this year, thereís the possibility he has another shot at it next year as a 19-year-old.

In which case, of course, the Sherwood Park native would be in the Alberta spotlight playing games in Calgary and here.

ďI donít think you can draw it up better than that.Ē

Pysyk said that when he got the call from Hockey Canada, ďI donít think Iíve ever jumped out of bed so quick before.

ďI think maybe a little bit, but Iím really excited ó itís Team Canada. I think itís more excitement than pressure.Ē

He hasnít yet heard what the Sabres are thinking about the scenario.

ďIím sure Iíll get call in the next week or so Iíll hear something from them, just ĎGood luckí or something.Ē

The smooth-striding defenceman is not so much a dominator as he is an all-arounder, and he has been in full stride recently for the Oil Kings.

So itís the double-edged sword for the team, proud to see it work out for him, but understandably concerned about not having him around for what could be a long stretch.

There will be four games immediately after he leaves for the Dec. 11 start of camp in Toronto.

ďItís going to be different in that sense,Ē he said, although he has stretches where heís been out of a Kings uniform like during the U-17 Worlds and due to injuries.

ďAlso, not being home for Christmas if I do make the team ó thatíll be a different experience, something new.

ďBut itís a sacrifice you need to make to play for your country and put the Maple Leaf on your chest.

ďAny kid would do that.Ē

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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