Homegrown Stone will give juniors scoring punch
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2011 (4187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CALGARY —- It’s no earth-shattering surprise that Winnipeg’s Mark Stone is among the forwards battling for spots at the national junior team camp.
After all, the Brandon Wheat Kings captain is the leading scorer in the Western Hockey League, and second overall in the Canadian Hockey League, with 65 points, including 27 goals, so far.
What is surprising is that unlike the bevy of high first-round draft picks Team Canada’s roster is larded with, the 19-year-old Stone was taken in the sixth round of the 2010 entry draft, 178th overall, by the Ottawa Senators.
Talk about a sleeper pick.
Not that draft placing matters a whit in the pressure cooker of a selection camp for the 2012 world junior hockey championship. Performance on demand is all that counts here and Stone gets that as well as anyone.
“Obviously, I want to make the team,” Stone said. “I’ve had that in the back of mind since the season ended last year.”
Stone played for the Winnipeg Hawks bantam AAA squad in 2006-07 and then for the Winnipeg Thrashers Midget AAA team in 2007-08. He joined the Wheaties’ roster for 2008-09, scoring 17 goals and 22 assists.
“I wanted to get invited to summer camp, I wanted to go to the Super Series (versus a Russian all-star team). It’s a step-by-step process.”
It’s a learning process, too, and Stone began when he was seven years old, watching the 1999 world junior tournament in his hometown of Winnipeg.
“I remember watching (goalie) Roberto Luongo, for the most part,” Stone said. “He was the guy who kind of stood out for everybody there, he stole the show.
“At that age, I really didn’t understand what the world juniors was. I was just going to watch Team Canada.”
Stone began drawing a realistic bead on making Team Canada in the first of his four seasons with Brandon in 2008-09.
“You see (teammates) like (defenceman) Keith Aulie and (forward) Brayden Schenn go to the camps,” Stone said. “Aulie was fortunate enough to make the team my first year (2009) and Schenn made it my next two years.
“They gave me a lot of advice about the camp.”
Advice like play your game, do what you do best, and all the rest. He knows the drill. The only other opportunity Stone has had to play for Canada was in 2009 when he was cut from Canada’s under-18 team for the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
“That was obviously one of the worst days of my life, and I don’t want to have that happen again,” he said.
Stone learned another hard lesson from another national junior team alumnus. That would be Edmonton Oilers defenceman Colten Teubert, who was playing for the Regina Pats at the time, late in the 2009-10 season.
The Wheat Kings were laying a 10-2 drubbing on the Pats and as the game wound down Teubert, as hockey players will do, decided to ‘send a message.’
The 17-year-old Stone obliged the truculent 19-year-old Teubert. Stone got the message, all right. Teubert won a brief, one-sided fight that sent Stone, who is not a fighter, to the hospital with a concussion.
Between the concussion and an early season thumb injury that kept him out for five weeks, Stone played just 39 games that season. He still scored 11 goals and added 17 assists for 28 points, but his sixth-round draft placing was clearly related to the truncated season.
“It happened and it’s something that I learned from,” said Stone, who had been projected as a top-50 pick early that season. “It’s hard to stay positive during those times. Just to be able to come back with a healthy season last year is a huge boost for me.”
Another huge boost for Stone was being invited to Team Canada’s summer development camp in August.
“He was probably our best forward,” said Team Canada’s head scout Kevin Prendergast. “So, hopefully, he can take that into this camp.”
Playing on a line with 2011 NJT stars Jonathan Huberdeau and Ryan Johansen, the six-foot-two, 206-pound right-winger showed off his gifted hands, potting a pair of goals and adding two assists in a Red and White intrasquad game in Fort McMurray, Alta., in August.
“That was a great thrill for me,” Stone said. “It was kind of (important) for me that I really had to show myself.
“I really wasn’t on their radar, I don’t think, coming in.”
He’s on the radar now, crowded though it is at a camp that will see head coach Don Hay carve a 42-man list of hopefuls down to a 22-man tournament roster.
“The positive and the negative of this camp is they basically only have three days to show us what they can do,” Prendergast said.
As much as anyone can be, Stone seems ready to display his talent on demand over the next few days.
— Postmedia News
Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Drafted: 178th overall by the Ottawa Senators, 2010