By Scott Billeck
Jayce Hawryluk, out of Roblin, Man., will play for Team Canada’s Under-18 team that will compete in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August. Hawryluk was named to the roster on Thursday.
“It’s huge,” says Hawryluk. “It has been a goal of mine to play for Team Canada and to make the Under-18 squad is such a huge honor and I am super excited.”
Hawryluk, who has represented Canada once already at the Canada Western Under-17 tournament for Canada West this past season, will have another opportunity to wear the Canadian jersey. Hawryluk will look to build off an impressive season that he put together in the Western Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings as a 16-year old.
Hawryluk, a 5-foot-10, 185 pound forward, finished third in team scoring for the Wheat Kings, potting 18 goals and 43 points. He is a skilled shooter, with excellent vision in the passing game. He is also not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice either.
For Hawryluk, hockey has always been a thing in his family, something he has been able to take advantage of.
“I grew from a family that all played hockey,” said Hawryluk. “I started at a young age and my dad got me started on the ice.
“I grew up playing minor hockey in Roblin, but come Bantam time there wasn’t enough players in Bantam in Roblin so we combined with Russell. When I got to AAA I played for the Parkland Rangers of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League.”
Getting drafted was the first step for Hawryluk, whose ultimate goal is to play in the National Hockey League one day.
“It was kind of a surprise, but Brandon took a chance on me,” said Hawryluk. “I viewed it as a stepping stone to the next step and it was my choice from there if I wanted it or not and make the best of the opportunity.
“It was a lot different coming into the first year, after six games it was a lot different than AAA Midget. But I think as the games went on I adapted well – I feel comfortable in the league. “
Hawryluk attributes his success to hard work and help from around him, including New York Islanders draft pick and Wheat Kings captain, Ryan Pulock.
“I was training in Brandon with Ryan and I learned a lot from him,” said Hawryluk. “He’s a great leader and leads by example. He’s very professional, a great leader and that is why he got drafted into the NHL this year – he’s a great guy.”
Kelly McCrimmon, Wheat Kings general manager and now head coach, will oversee Hawryluk from the bench this upcoming season, but it was what he saw in his post as a GM that attracted the club to eventually drafting Hawryluk.
“Jayce is very highly-skilled, ultra-competitive, and plays the game hard,” said McCrimmon of Hawrylyk, who was taken in the second round, 32nd overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
McCrimmon says that Hawryluk’s involvement in the Ivan Hlinka tournament will be beneficial to both the club and Hawryluk personally.
“It is the next step in the progression in terms of being in the Hockey Canada stream,” said McCrimmon. “Obviously, it is his draft year, so it is an opportunity for him to get exposure on a nation stage on a high level with players around the world.
“With the Wheat Kings, we find that they become better players based on that experience, and we find that better players add more back to your team.”
Hawryluk and Co. will be in attendance when the tournament kicks off on August 5 and will run to August 10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. Canada plays in Group A with the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.