The Ottawa Senators prospect wasn’t on the original list of invites to Hockey Canada’s national junior team summer development camp – step one on the road toward wearing the red maple leaf at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, which runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 at Scotiabank Place and the Ottawa Civic Centre.
But the 5-foot-9, 186-pound centre wore a wide grin on his face as he spoke about the opportunity he’s received alongside 43 other Team Canada hopefuls over the past few days at the University of Ottawa sports complex.
“At first, when I wasn’t invited, I was a little disappointed,” said the 19-year-old native of Woodbridge, Ont. “But I’m the type of character who doesn’t get upset about those sorts of things. It happens, but you’ve got to move on and keep fighting through.
“Once I got the call, I was pretty happy, pretty excited. They gave me a shot to prove I should be here and that I deserve to be here.”
Caporusso did his part Monday night, scoring on a penalty shot in the White team’s 4-3 victory over the Red, one of three intrasquad games held during the camp. Didn’t hurt, either, the Senators general manager Bryan Murray was in the stands watching.
How much did Caporusso want to be here? He had been in Cannes, France, for five days with some cousins on a European vacation and expected to be there for another week. But when he learned via a call home to his father, Lou, that Hockey Canada wanted him in Ottawa this weekend, he quickly found the first available flight home.
“I was hoping to make this camp but when I saw I didn't, I thought I'd take some time off,” Caporusso, the Senators’ third-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, told NHL.com. “I wasn’t there for too long because when I got the call I was excited, got on a plane and came right back. I couldn’t care less about the vacation.”
Back in 2006, Caporusso won a silver medal with Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in Yorkton, Sask., and was named to the tournament all-star team. It further fuelled his desire to represent his country at the world juniors someday.
“That was my only real shot at international hockey, but I loved it,” said Caporusso. “I’ve always wanted to put on the Canada jersey and player for the world junior (team). Growing up with my family, watching the world juniors, it was a tradition with them every Christmas. We’d sit down and watch the whole tournament.
“To get a shot at playing here is a dream come true.”
Even better might be the opportunity to suit up for Canada at a world junior tournament in the arena where he hopes to wear Senators colours down the road.
“To be able to play in front of the home crowd … You’ve got the Senators watching, you’ve got the (Hockey) Canada guys watching. Talk about pressure,” said Caporusso. “But you’ve got to put all of those things aside and just play hockey. But (it would be) unbelievable. I love this city and I hope to play here one day.”
It’s been a busy summer already for Caporusso, who also attended the Senators’ annual development camp at the end of June. This fall, he’ll head back to the University of Michigan for his sophomore year with a definite plan in mind.
“I’ve talked to (Senators director of player development) Randy Lee and he basically told me just to get stronger,” he said. “He told me I’m on the right path and just keep going and doing what I’m doing. Try to take your game to the next level to be able to play in the NHL.”
Doing it in Ottawa has been his biggest dream of all, ever since that his draft day a year ago in Columbus – ironically, the home city of Michigan’s Big 10 arch-rival Ohio State.
“I loved being drafted by a Canadian team, especially one that’s only four hours away from home,” said Caporusso. “I played in Ottawa a lot as a kid. Loved the city, loved the river, just everything about it. I love the Senators. I always respected them as a team (he grew up cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs).
“Whenever I watched them, they always had a powerful team. Very cool, collected and just a business-oriented team that gets the job done.”