While the news was devastating, Brandon Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock is determined to turn his disappointment into motivation after being passed over by the Canadian junior hockey team.
The 19-year-old defenceman was surprisingly left off the list Monday when Team Canada released its 25-player selection camp roster, the smallest number of players ever picked for the Canadian camp.
"Yeah, obviously it’s disappointing for me, but I have to look past it now and what’s done is done and just use that as motivation moving forward and finish the year solid here in Brandon," Pulock said.
The Canadian team, coached by Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels and managed by Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton, selected nine WHLers and only eight defencemen overall to go to camp, including WHL blue-liners Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Josh Morrissey of the Prince Albert Raiders, Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winter Hawks and Damon Severson of Kelowna.
Wheat Kings head coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon shared in Pulock’s disappointment and firmly believes his classy captain deserved to be selected.
"I can’t speak to the process, but I am disappointed for Ryan," McCrimmon said. "I think he is playing well and he was involved in the (CHL-Russia) Subway Series games for three straight years and this was his last opportunity, but I think he should feel good about his season to date. And I’m biased, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that he’s not in the group that should be going to camp."
Reinhart’s selection raises a few concerns, since he will have to sit out three of Canada’s four pool games before the playoff round begins, after being suspended during last year’s world juniors. With Canada expected to take seven defencemen overseas, an early injury could leave them short-handed on the blue-line with Reinhart unavailable early on.
While Pulock wasn’t the only Canadian junior star passed over, the small size of this year’s selection camp roster — often featuring 40-plus players — was a small consolation.
"Obviously it’s a small roster this year and it’s a tough team to make," said Pulock, a 2013 first-round draft pick (15th overall) of the NHL’s New York Islanders who has 10 goals and 26 points in 24 games to sit ninth in scoring among WHL defencemen. "There’s so many good players here in Canada and not everyone can go and obviously I was one of the odd men out ... There’s a lot of guys that could have stepped in there and done a great job and they don’t get a shot, either, so that’s the way it is and it’s just something you have to move on from.
"Obviously for me, I want to finish the year strong here in Brandon and down the road I want to play in the NHL and that’s still one of my main goals, so I can’t really dwell on it."
With three cuts to make, the Canadian camp begins Dec. 12 in Toronto, with this year’s world juniors slated for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.
ICINGS: Pulock and the Wheat Kings return to action Wednesday when they play host to the Regina Pats at Westman Place at 7 p.m. ... A four-point performance in a 5-4 OT victory over the Wheat Kings on Saturday in Brandon helped earn P.A. Raiders centre Leon Draisaitl the nod as the WHL’s player of the week. The 18-year-old German fired four goals and notched seven points in two games.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 3, 2013