Though Camrose isn’t listed on the departures screen at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International, Taylor Chorney’s route to Edmonton includes an extended stop in this city of 16,000. After appearances at the past two Oilers Development Camps , the 21-year-old defenceman hopes Rookie Camp in “The Rose City” is his gateway to a career in Oil Country.
“One reason that I’m really excited about [Rookie Camp] is that it’s a new challenge and gives me the chance to prove what I can do,” Chorney says. “It’s tough to say what my expectations are because it’s a new situation, but I just want to go in there with the right attitude and make the most of this opportunity.”
Edmonton’s second pick (36th overall) in the 2005 Entry Draft, Chorney spent the past three seasons with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux , tallying 14 goals and 59 assists in 126 games. A strong skater and mobile asset on the blueline, he was named to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's (WCHA) first all-star team and helped lead UND to the NCAA Frozen Four tournament this past season.
After such an exciting and impressive year, the down-to-earth Minnesota-native admits that the off-season is starting to wear on him. “It was nice to be able to get into a bit of a routine this summer by working out with a core group of guys, but we all feel the itch to get back to the rink and get back at it.”
Former UND Coach Brad Berry isn’t surprised by Chorney’s success.
“He’s a very good skater, an agile defenceman, and he’s great with the puck,” Berry recalls. “I knew his dad (former Penguins and Kings defenceman Marc Chorney) years ago, and Taylor’s a chip off the old block – just a really focused and passionate player.”
Despite being fresh from college and training with other Minnesota-based players this summer, Chorney will see a few familiar faces at Rookie Camp this weekend. Included among them will be Cody Wild and Bryan Lerg, who – like Chorney – participated in Development Camp this June and are set to embark on their first pro seasons.
As part of his introduction to the professional ranks, Chorney will conduct an autograph signing this Saturday at the ATB Financial building in Camrose – his first public appearance as an Oiler.
“I remember being a kid and idolizing my favourite hockey players, and so I know these events mean a lot to the community,” he says. “This will be my first one representing the Oilers, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
In addition to Saturday’s autograph signing, Chorney’s schedule includes medical testing on Friday and then four days of scrimmages, practices, and prospects games. The competition will be fierce in Camrose, but he insists he’s ready.
“I just want to play my game and stick to what I do best,” he says. “I don’t want to try to do too much – just make the right plays and play steady. That’s what’s got me this far and it’s important to stay focused at times like this.”
“You work your whole life for these kinds of chances. I still have a lot to learn, but I also know I have a lot to contribute to the team.”
If the route to Edmonton indeed leads through Camrose, fans can look forwarding to seeing more of Chorney and he can look forward to making Oil Country home.