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Earning His Spot

by Kristi Hennessy / Winnipeg Jets
GP: 19 | GOALS: 9 | ASST: 17

PIM: 12 | +/-: +4

Coming as no surprise, Winnipeg Jets first round draft choice of 2011, Mark Scheifele, has been formally invited to attend Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp in Calgary. Scheifele, 18, was one of 41 players invited to the camp.

“It’s an unreal feeling, every kid dreams of this,” said Scheifele. “There are so many Canadians that have traditions to do with the World Juniors. Getting invited to the selection camp is an incredible honour, and something I’ll definitely always remember.”

With the invitation comes pressure. First is the pressure to make the team, and then the pressure once you are on the team.

Mark Scheifele with the Winnipeg Jets“If you make the team, there is a lot of pressure from the whole nation,” said Scheifele. “In Winnipeg you have the home crowd on you, but this is the entire nation. It’s definitely a lot more pressure but it’s something that will help all the hockey players improve mentally and physically.

“I think you can use it as motivation, because you want to be on that team and show what you can do.”

The Kitchener, Ontario native has had the chance to look over the long list of talented players and has more than a few familiar faces joining him in December.

“Tanner Pearson from Barrie, is a very good friend of mine,” said Scheifele. “I also played with a lot of guys at the U18 (Under 18) like Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murray, Mark McNeill, Cody Ceci and Scott Harrington. Then in the last two years at the combine and the draft, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys. I’d say I probably know about 80% of the guys.”

Because national junior teams only have a couple short weeks together, having established relationships between teammates can prove to make all the difference when it comes time to putting up important wins.

“To be comfortable with the guys definitely helps,” he said. “You have to come together as a team quickly and it’s a tough thing to deal with. When you have guys who know each other and know how to play with each other will help a lot.”

The 18-year old has no doubt in his mind that if he earns a roster spot on Team Canada’s National Junior Team, he will be able to contribute more than just the odd goal on the scoreboard.

“I want to play a key role, I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said. “I have to go in and work my hardest at camp and show what I can do. If I make the team I think I will be able to contribute both offensively and defensively and do whatever it takes for the team to win.

“It’s not an individual thing, it’s a team thing and it’s a country thing. You have to play for your country and do whatever you need to do to help the team succeed.”

Although the pressure to make this roster may be immense, Scheifele says he just has to go there and do what he does best - work his hardest, and keep a smile on his face.

“I have to just go and play my game and do what got me there,” said Schefele. “I’ll also bring an extra edge to my game to show that I can play in any role and I can do whatever it takes to help the team.

“I always go into everything with an open mind and work my hardest. That’s how I’m going to be going into this, and try to make that team.”

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