It was great while it lasted but for the Edmonton Oil Kings, their post season is over. The Oil Kings had their most successful season of modern franchise history winning their division, conference and eventually the WHL before competing for the 2012 Memorial Cup in Shawinigan Quebec but the the Oil Kings would be the first team to be eliminated from the four team tournament.
Edmonton Oil Kings’ captain, and Buffalo Sabres prospect defenceman Mark Pysyk has been named the WHL player of the week on Monday.
Pysyk’s late game heroics Thursday night saw the Oil Kings take a 3-2 series lead when Pysyk scored with less than a minute on the clock in what may have been the most important game of the series for the Oil Kings. Had the Oil Kings fallen 3-2 to the Winterhawks and had to play catchup and win the final two games, this may have been a different series entirely.
This wasn’t the medal that team Canada wanted to play for, but this is the game they ended their tournament with. Despite strong play through their preliminary round, the loss to Russia Tuesday night was the most significant game of the tournament. For Finland, losing is never easy, but losing to Canada in Canada only increased the focus on their loss. Not that a 4-0 loss wouldn’t draw enough attention as it was.
Although the IIHF World Juniors tournament is not an NHL tournament, there are several players in the tournament who have been drafted by NHL teams. For many NHL fans, this is the only opportunity to see many of the prospects in action. Of course this is still a competitive tournament and an excellent opportunity to see the world’s best junior hockey players on display.
Here is a look at how the NHL prospects have done so far at this tournament. All stats were taken from the IIHF team statistics pages.
The Team Canada World Juniors camp invitations have been announced and only 3 players from last year’s silver medal winning team will be returning. This group of players features no real surprises, but definitely a large number of talented players.
Edmonton Oilers’ prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz is on the list as is Edmonton Oil Kings defencemen Mark Pysyk. Both are Edmonton natives who are hoping to represent their country in their home town.
Aaron Vickers of NHL.com has some comments from Team Canada head of scouting Kevin Prendergast:
I think the skill factor overall (is higher),” Prendergast said. “We have a lot of skilled defensemen. Not near as big as we were last year, but we have good players back there. We’re young up front compared to where we were last year, but you look at these kids, you look at their stats, where they were drafted in the (NHL) draft, they were in NHL camps for a while. They understand what they have to bring when they get here.
The Edmonton Oil Kings’ captain Mark Pysyk was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL entry draft after years of hard work with the Oil Kings. After an invite and strong Team Canada camp this summer, the young defenceman even stood a small chance of making the big club this year because he’s been developing quite nicely. Through the Oil Kings’ first 13 games, Pysyk is -1, has 5 assists and 27 penalty minutes. Pysyk now plays every game with the added pressure of knowing that the Sabres are watching him intently, as are the coaching staff of Team Canada. However, being named today to the WHL team of the Subway Super Series which will be played against Russia might relieve some pressure. This tournament is very important to the Team Canada world juniors team selection and is an indication that Team Canada Hockey likes what they see in Pysyk.
Mark Pysyk was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall by the Buffalo Sabres. The Oil Kings’ captain may not be an Oilers’ prospect, but for now he is still a member of the extended Oilers’ family. The emphasis on that statement should be for now. As Bruce McCurdy notes, it will not be a surprise if the young defenceman gets a long look by the Sabres. This summer, Pysyk received his second invitation to a Team Canada U20 development camp this summer and is hoping to have made the most of it. In 2009 Pysyk won gold representing his country at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, the 2009 and 2010 Subway Super Series, and in December 2010 Pysyk was invited to the World Junior Camp but didn’t make the final cuts to play in the Holiday tournament. This could be the young defenseman’s year.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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