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#BLUEPRINT SERIES: MARK PYSYK

The unassuming Pysyk is already turning heads after one pro season

Tuesday, 09.17.2013 / 10:38 AM / Features
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com
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#BLUEPRINT SERIES: MARK PYSYK
Mark Pysyk isn\u2019t your typical hockey player. When he\u2019s not at the rink, you won\u2019t find him rushing home to watch the NHL Network all night long. In fact it\u2019s just the opposite. The 21-year-old defenseman prefers to stay away from the game during his off hours. So much so, that it caused him some problems when he attended the NHL Draft Combine in 2010.
Mark Pysyk

Mark Pysyk isn’t your typical hockey player. When he’s not at the rink, you won’t find him rushing home to watch the NHL Network all night long. In fact it’s just the opposite. The 21-year-old defenseman prefers to stay away from the game during his off hours. So much so, that it caused him some problems when he attended the NHL Draft Combine in 2010.

In addition to the strenuous physical testing, the top draft prospects are put through the wringer by potential employers, sometimes being asked the strangest questions imaginable. The problem for Pysyk – who ended up being selected 23rd overall by the Sabres in that draft – was that he was struggling with the easiest question of all: tell us about yourself.

“I’m not a huge hockey guy outside the rink; I don’t watch too much hockey. At the Combine, they kept asking me (who I modeled my game after),” Pysyk explains. “I said (Brent) Seabrook from Chicago the one day. That night I got on the phone with my buddy who’s a pretty big hockey fan and I asked him ‘who do I play like? I need some help here because I’m sounding like an idiot.’ He said I was maybe more like Duncan Keith. I know that may be high expectations. But he’s just a simple, puck moving defenseman. He may be a little more offensive, but that’s where I see my game going. He’s a great guy to watch, an elite player in the league.”

It wasn’t the prettiest of goals; it went off their defenseman. But just that feeling. We were losing that game as well, but it’s just that feeling inside. I don’t know if it’ll be matched.Mark Pysyk on his first NHL goal

If Pysyk (pronounced Pessick) is looking to avoid high expectations from Sabres fans, he didn’t do himself any favors during a 19-game recall last season. He finished with five points (1+4) in those 19 games with Buffalo, adding to the 18 (4+14) he collected in 57 games with Rochester. Despite it being his first pro season, Pysyk impressed many observers by playing with the calm and poise of a 15-year-veteran.

“It was awesome. The NHL experience, I don’t think there’s that anything you can compare that to. It was awesome getting a little taste. And you’ve got that taste so you want to do anything to get back there.”

Before making his professional debut in Western New York, Pysyk had the unique opportunity of spending his entire minor and junior hockey career back home in Alberta. Born in Edmonton, Pysyk moved slightly east in the province to Sherwood Park in third grade. Pysyk played his minor hockey in the Sherwood Park program before graduating to the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings for four seasons.

Pysyk - who has a 15 handicap in golf - captained the Oil Kings for his final two seasons, and led them to a Memorial Cup appearance in 2012. His junior career also included a bronze medal with Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship, which ironically also took place in Edmonton and Calgary.

Despite his junior achievements, it was an under-the-radar moment that took place last April 19 in Buffalo that Pysyk lists as his career highlight.

The Sabres were hosting the Rangers in a late season tilt with serious playoff implications. But the night turned ugly in a hurry when New York scored three quick goals late in the first period, and added three more to start the second. As time ticked down in the game, with the Rangers holding an 8-3 lead, Pysyk one-timed a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle that changed direction off Steve Eminger and into the Rangers net for his first NHL goal.

While it was a meaningless goal to many, Pysyk says it’s a moment he’ll never forget.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of goals; it went off their defenseman. But just that feeling. We were losing that game as well, but it’s just that feeling inside. I don’t know if it’ll be matched.”

Making the night even more special for Pysyk was that his mother was in attendance. It was the only one of his 19 NHL games that either of his parents saw in person. And it almost didn’t happen.

“I didn’t want them to come. I figured as soon as I booked their flight I’d be sent down. They were totally understanding with that. She came to see her friend in Toronto. She said that was the purpose of her trip, instead of saying she was coming here, so we wouldn’t jinx it.”

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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