SUN Hockey Pool

Chorney isn't listening

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

He's one of the few rookies with a realistic chance of making the team.

So has been the chatter.

But in order for Taylor Chorney to start the season with the Edmonton Oilers, he'll have to take someone else's job.

"You try not to listen too much about what you hear," Chorney said.

"I guess the only thing that I'm worried about is making sure that I'm putting my best foot forward every time I step on the ice.

"I just want to go out there and put myself in a position where hopefully I can do some things, catch some eyes and be right there at the end."

Chorney, 21, comes into camp with a high profile.

The five-foot-11, 182-pound defenceman was the Oilers second pick (36th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft behind Andrew Cogliano.

He spent the last three seasons playing U.S. college hockey at the University of North Dakota, but decided to forgo his final year and turn pro.

Last night he was in the lineup as the Oilers rookies took on the University of Alberta Golden Bears in their annual exhibition game at the Clare Drake Arena.

"He's been unbelievable so far," said Springfield Falcons head coach Jeff Truitt, who's currently coaching the Oilers rookies. "He's such a smooth skater, he sees the ice really well and has great poise with the puck.

"When he has the puck, good things happen. He makes good reads and is sure noticeable with his skating ability, he's so smooth out there. He's a great player."

Chorney had three goals and 21 assists for North Dakota last season, helping them get to the semifinals of the NCAA Frozen Four tournament. The previous year he had 31 points in 39 games.

"It was a good year, it went really well," Chorney said. "Maybe statistically I didn't have quite as many points as I would have liked. But in the end it doesn't really matter to me. We had an awesome group of guys and we put together a good run at the end of the year. We came up a little bit short at the end, but the friendships I made with my teammates - it was so positive, that it was unbelievable overall."

As a college player, Chorney was not able to attend Oilers training camp prior to leaving school.

He wrestled with the decision following his sophomore season, but decided to go back for a third year. After that, the choice was easy. He just has to find a way to complete his marketing degree away from the rink - a promise made to his parents after leaving school.

"It just felt right for me at the end of the year," Chorney said. "I felt I was in a similar situation right at the end of my sophomore season. I could have come, but I was second-guessing then and I knew that if I was second-guessing, then it wasn't the time.

"At the end of last year, once I got over the fact that we had lost in the semifinals, it just felt right for me and felt it was time to take the next step and challenge myself."

The biggest step will be getting used to the professional game. The grind often takes its toll on collegiate players in their first season.

"To me, the biggest thing will off-ice," Chorney said. "There are not as many people watching you all the time, you're just expected to do things, expected to conduct yourself as a professional.

"In college you have your coaches always telling you what you have to do. Here they tell you to be here at a certain time and if you're not, they just send you home."

Rookie camp concludes with tonight's game against the Canucks rookies and a game against a group of ACAC all-stars Thursday, both at the Encana Arena in Camrose.


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