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Wheaties' Hawryluk struts stuff

Roblin native shows well in rigorous NHL tests

Wheatie and Roblin product Jayce Hawryluk was lights out during the physical testing portion of the NHL Combine.

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Wheatie and Roblin product Jayce Hawryluk was lights out during the physical testing portion of the NHL Combine. (TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN FILES)

Just like three suspensions in the 2013-14 WHL seasons didn't stop him from being a productive player, a little body revolt at the NHL scouting combine on Saturday didn't prevent Jayce Hawryluk of the Brandon Wheat Kings from strutting his stuff.

The 18-year-old centre from Roblin had a pretty good day at the fitness testing, never mind a bit of upchucking while he was tackling the day's final and most taxing assignment, the VO2 bike ride.

"That was intense, very intense," Hawryluk said once he was done, beaming like completion of all the tests was a badge of honour. "Once you hit the bikes there was a lot of puking but I got right back on and got going again. That was good."

One thing that catches many NHL prospects off guard for the VO2 bike test is the breathing tube that goes in their mouths, quite a distraction with its accompanying nose pinch.

"Oh, very," Hawryluk said. "You've got to hold that in there and your mouth gets very dry. But you've got to battle, that's what battling is."

He'd heard enough about the regimen of exercises and tests on the final day of the combine to be prepared, he said. But this was something else.

"I expected it to be very intense and it was," he said. "And I liked that. I've had a few workouts that were intense but this ranks up there at the top."

Hawryluk did pretty well in the final analysis. NHL Central Scouting released the names of the top performers in each of its fitness tests and Hawryluk had several top 10's.

He was the best among 115 invited prospects in the pro-agility/left test, then fifth in the right version. He was also third in one of the anaerobic fitness (Wingate bike) tests, eighth and ninth in a pair of jumping tests, sixth in the right-hand grip strength, ninth and 10th in the two bench-press rankings and second with 12 pull-ups.

All of that, combined with his interviews with 19 NHL teams, would make it a pretty good week.

"You get some odd questions, that try to throw you off," he said. "But it's interesting. Some teams have 13 or 14 guys in there."

Rated 37th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Hawryluk now has his sights set on improving his fitness this summer.

"Just getting bigger, faster, stronger and working out and training," he said. "And getting ready for the season coming up. We're going to have a good, young team and I'm excited about it already."

Hawryluk is coming off a 24-goal, 64-point season with the Wheaties, plus an appearance with Team Canada at the World Under-18 tournament in April.

He has had, he said, no after-effects of a brief health scare in the playoffs, when he was admitted to hospital briefly after collapsing after a playoff game.

"Everything's good," he said. "They were on it fast. Everything's fine. It was just dehydration."

There are now bigger things to worry about, like the draft itself on June 27-28 in Philadelphia.

"Since the season ended, it's now around the corner and it's something you do think about, but I was off to the worlds right after the WHL playoffs and I was focused on that for a while," he said. "Then when you get home, you just try to be focused on what you can do to help yourself."

"(The draft) is still a month away, but it'll come quick."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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