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OIL KING EYES NATIONAL STAGE

Mark Pysyk looks to make Team Canada's 2012 WJC Squad

Thursday, 08.04.2011 / 3:05 PM / Features
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OIL KING EYES NATIONAL STAGE
Article courtesy of Ryan Dittrick @ EdmontonOilers.com

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With one simple question, Mark Pysyk's smile lit up the room beneath section 122 at Rexall Place. Following an intense, back-to-basics session at Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Development Camp, the normally reserved 19-year-old came out of his shell. In simple detail, Pysyk explained what it would mean to represent his country at home in Edmonton.

"It would be spectacular," he said.

"When you're watching [the World Junior Championship] growing up, you're hoping to play in it and you never know where it's going to be. I'm lucky enough that the year I could make it is in my hometown and in Calgary."

The 6'1", 188-pound rearguard has been here before, mind you. He practiced hard in anticipation of lacing up his skates and donning the nation's iconic red and white colours one year ago. That dream came up short on Dec. 15, 2010 when he, along with eight others, were sent packing in the team's closing round of cuts.
 
"Yeah, absolutely I did," he remarked about watching last year's tournament. "I was hoping they would win the gold medal. It was disappointing, but at Christmas time you've got to watch it no matter what.

"When you get cut from a team that wins the gold or silver medal, it means they were a pretty good team."

Disappointment was expected, but Pysyk returned to the Edmonton Oil Kings, stamped an incredible pace and set a career-high campaign. In 63 regular season games, he registered six goals and 40 points, along with 88 penalty minutes and an astounding +29 rating.

With another year of experience, growth and maturity, Pysyk hopes his newly gained veteran mind- and skill-set will help him parlay into a role along Canada's heavily counted-upon blueline.

"As a player I'm getting a little bigger, stronger and playing more physical and with some more confidence," he explained. "I think I need to come into camp and, right from the get-go, prove myself as a solid defensive player and get up in the rush as much as possible as well."

In order to do that, a strong showing at this week's Summer Development Camp will help boost his stock and earn remembrance from Head Coach Don Hay, among others.

"They're watching you," Pysyk said of the coaches. "They're not going to make any cuts but they'll certainly remember what happens at this time."

Even so, there's room to be grounded amid the pressure-cooker. Pysyk understands that sometimes less is more when trying to establish a rock-solid, two-way style.

"I'm a little bit more comfortable this year," he said. "There's not as much looking around and trying to fit in. I need to play my game and relax out there."

It's a challenge, no doubt. Pysyk is among 46 skaters vying for a second look and roster spot later this year. Although hype continues to build, his humble, mild-mannered attitude shines when speaking about his teammates.

"It's pretty cool," Pysyk said. "I get to play against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and (Jonathan) Huberdeau is on my team. There are a lot of big names. Just look around the room and you see a name that's going to play in the NHL either this year or next year."

He's one of them, too. Selected 23rd overall in 2010, a role with the Buffalo Sabres and, perhaps Team Canada, is a possibility in the not too distant future.

Until then, Sherwood Park's rising star is simply relishing the moment. 

"I went out and had some fun today."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82