As seen in the Bonnyville Nouvelle
For the first time since 2008, a Pontiac could represent Bonnyville on the Team Canada West squad at the World Jr. A Challenge.
Defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk and forward Bobby McMann were both invited to the Team Canada West selection camp last week, along with 58 other players from across western Canada.
“It is unbelievable. Coming into the year I never dreamed anything like this could happen, but (my) development has gone well,” said Pasichnuk, who received the camp invite from Team Canada West head coach Tim Fragle.
With 11 goals and 24 assists Pasichnuk leads all AJHL defenseman in scoring and currently sits eighth overall in league scoring.
The 18-year-old Bonnyville native has an October Player of Month award and a Player of the Week award to his credit so far this season.
He was also recently placed on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch List, which lists to top junior prospects in North America.
Pasichnuk is one of 21 defenseman invited to the camp who will be competing for one of the six open spots on the blue line.
While the task seems daunting, Pasichnuk says he is just going to stick to his game.
“I’m just going to play my game and do what I do best. I want to create offense, but focus on defense as well,” said Pasichnuk.
While the four-day camp will be the biggest chance for most players to make a pitch for a spot on the roster, both Pasichnuk and McMann have had a few years to impress the head coach.
Fragle, who serves as the head coach for the Pontiacs North Division rival Sherwood Park Crusaders, has had plenty of chances to watch both Pontiacs over the past few years.
“He has been able to coach against me for the last three years, so he kind of has an idea how I play,” said McMann.
McMann received a voice message on his phone from Fragle, when he responded to the call he was also extended an invite to the upcoming selection camp.
“I was pretty excited to get that call,” said McMann. “It was something that I wasn’t really expecting. It is nice to get that recognition.”
McMann has been turning heads around the league this season as he has racked up 24 goal and 42 points in just 27 games.
The 19-year-old Pontiacs centre, who has already committed to the NCAA’s Colgate Raiders, is set to compete against 33 forwards and hopes to be able to land a spot as one of the twelve selected to the Team Canada West roster.
The top 60 players from the British Columbia Hockey League, Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League will attend the camp, which will be held from Dec. 5 to 8 in Leduc. Only 22 players will make the final roster.
If selected McMann and Pasichnuk would get the chance to pull on a Team Canada sweater and represent their country in an international event.
“I’ve never really thought about it,” said McMann, of possibly getting to wear the Canadian red and white. “If the time comes that is going to be so special. I can’t even imagine the feeling that I’ll get and the rush of emotion.”
The World Junior A Challenge is set to take place in Whitby and Cobourg, Ont. from Dec 13. to 19, 2015.
Canada East and Canada West will face-off against Russia, Switzerland, U.S.A and the Czech Republic.
Team Canada West will go head-to-head with Russia on Dec. 11 before opening the tournament against the Czech Republic on Dec. 13.