Pysyk's role growing on Oil Kings

CRASH CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 PM ET

A big spike in Mark Pysyk's learning curve as a rookie came right at the end of the season.

Pysyk, the Edmonton Oil Kings' first-ever bantam draft choice, had lived up to the advance hype as a steady, all-around defenceman in his first season in the WHL.

Overmatched against the Calgary Hitmen in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, the Oil Kings at least made the Hitmen sweat through three games of the sweep. Then, as the team made a last-ditch run at the final playoff spot in 2010, Pysyk load grew even larger, especially with his blue-line partner/mentor Adrian Van de Mosselaer watching on crutches.

Fast forward to this year, Pysyk is still responsible for carrying the bulk of the ice time during a playoff push — as well as now being the team's captain.

“It was definitely kind of having to grow up really fast, playing in the playoffs, logging pretty big minutes,” said the Sherwood Park product.

“First year in the league you're still testing the waters, I guess, but by the end of the year everybody's played, and everybody's expected to do what they can.”

Same goes for this run, except Pysyk is among the veterans he once looked towards.

“Just from being my third year here, yeah, I guess guys are looking at me this time instead of the other way around.

“Having been there the one time is good experience. We didn't obviously do very well the first time around, but knowing that feeling, knowing about playoff hockey, it's even more exciting to get another opportunity.”


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