12/1 Recap: Pysyk continues ramp-up

Mark Pysyk tied a career-high Thursday by gathering three assists as Edmonton throttled Calgary, 6-1. The swift skating defenseman has been nothing short of excellent in two games since returning from an upper body injury, and looks poised to win a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championship being held in his backyard in Alberta.

You may recall how Pysyk raised his play last season following his selection camp invite, posting three assists (along with his first goal of the 2010-11 campaign) in his second post-announcement game just as he did in Thursday's tilt.

Winners of five straight, the Oil Kings will next face Saskatoon on Sunday.

Pysyk's hometown paper, The Sherwood Park News, has a Friday blurb regarding the rearguard's World Junior aspirations.

A first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pysyk was one of the final cuts from last year's squad, receiving one of the dreaded early-morning phone calls that keeps all of the players sleepless and staring at the phone to tell him he had been left off of the team.

The Park defenceman, a two-time MVP for the Edmonton Oil Kings, is hoping this is the year he gets to wear Canadian colours, especially with the tournament in his own community.

"I'm excited, there are no returning defencemen this year, so it should be wide open," Pysyk said. "I'm a year more confident, bigger, stronger, I've had a whole year of growth, so hopefully it turns out better this year than it did last year.

"I've been thinking about this since I woke up at 6 a.m. last year waiting for a phone call. I'm looking forward to getting another crack at it and I'm fortunate enough to get another chance."

Pysyk was reluctant to throw on a national team jersey at a press conference announcing the short-listed players in Edmonton on Monday, not wanting to tempt fate.

The Park product has 13 points in 21 games for the Oil Kings this season.

In Thursday OHL play, Steven Shipley finished +1 as Niagara thumped Erie, 7-2. The 6'3 center has five goals, eight assists, and a -11 rating in 23 games this season.
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