Shot of a lifetime

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

Perspective is a tough thing to gain when you're in Calgarian Shane Hynes's position. He has the scholarship to an Ivy League school, membership to the coolest club on campus as part of the hockey team and a spot on Cornell's top line.

So when one of the famous alums showed up this fall -- locked out of his usual job -- Hynes had his eyes opened.

Joe Nieuwendyk has three Stanley Cup rings and spent 19 years in the NHL, so it came as a bit of a shock when the former Flames star put his Big Red experience into context while working out with the team.

Hynes's view of his situation changed at that moment.

"He said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the 21-year-old, who grew up watching Nieuwendyk at the 'Dome. "He remembers his days fondly and his closest friends now are his college teammates, even though he's played 19 years in the NHL.

"It opened up my eyes quite a bit. You get caught up in the moment but you won't realize until you're gone that you won't get this opportunity again."

So Hynes will bask in every moment of the regional tournament starting today in Minneapolis. Fourth-ranked Cornell takes on Ohio State in its first game and has the chance to keep the Buckeyes from playing in the Frozen Four they will host next month.

Two years ago, Hynes was a freshman when the Big Red made the Frozen Four in Buffalo, losing to New Hampshire in the semis.

Hynes thought his team would get back to the big tournament and win it the next year. It didn't happen. Now he's set to go back but with the knowledge this may be his last title chance.

At least he'll have someone in the stands cheering for him. His father Wayne and 14-year-old brother Jordan are meeting the team in Minneapolis. So Shane will enjoy the experience but get down to business as well.

"We're just trying to play our game," said Hynes, who played junior-A hockey with the Nanaimo Clippers. "We'll take it all in but the bottom line is we have to perform on the ice. That's what we're all focused on right now, winning the two regionals."

If Cornell gets through to the Frozen Four, the entire Hynes family -- his mother and sister, plus father and brother -- will make the trip to Columbus. And Shane will try to shine in front of Jordan, who is following in his footsteps playing with the bantam triple-A Bruins in Calgary's Northwest.

Being a role model is also something Shane takes pride in. Jordan idolizes him a little for what he's done.

"A lot, actually," Shane said. "He's a great kid. He doesn't have the size right now. He's going to get bigger for sure but he's a slow starter just like me. I didn't get drafted into the WHL so he's not expecting to either. But you never know."


Videos

Photos