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 nation’s 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, he’ll 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.

“Yeah, that’s pretty cool and unique, I think,” Pysyk said Wednesday before suiting up for the Oil Kings game against the Prince Albert Raiders at Rexall Place.

“I don’t know how many times that has happened before, if it has, but it’s pretty cool.”

And whether he does or doesn’t stick this year, there’s 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.

“I don’t think you can draw it up better than that.”

Pysyk said that when he got the call from Hockey Canada, “I don’t think I’ve ever jumped out of bed so quick before.

“I think maybe a little bit, but I’m really excited — it’s Team Canada. I think it’s more excitement than pressure.”

He hasn’t yet heard what the Sabres are thinking about the scenario.

“I’m sure I’ll get call in the next week or so I’ll hear something from them, just ‘Good luck’ or something.”

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 it’s 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.

“It’s going to be different in that sense,” he said, although he has stretches where he’s been out of a Kings uniform like during the U-17 Worlds and due to injuries.

“Also, not being home for Christmas if I do make the team — that’ll be a different experience, something new.

“But it’s a sacrifice you need to make to play for your country and put the Maple Leaf on your chest.

“Any kid would do that.”

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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