It’s something young hockey players only dream of, and now two Regina Pats will get a chance to make those dreams come true.
Austin Wagner and Sam Steel will get the chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors after being invited to the selection camp in Quebec next month.
“It’s huge for me,” Wagner said Tuesday after the announcement. “Obviously you watch the tournament growing up and you see all the guys that are going through and play in it and the chance to represent your country is massive.”
And if you’re Wagner, the opportunity was also a bit surprising given he wasn’t invited to the prospect camp in the summer.
“I was a little shocked, but at the same time I was very happy. I played well in the super series, I thought, and I did everything I could.”
Wagner, who is noted for his speed, has 11 goals and eight assists so far this season and is sitting at +17. He’s also second in the league for shorthanded goals at four.
Aside from the excitement of being invited to selection camp, Wagner is glad to be going through it all with Steel.
“It will be awesome to get to have a teammate there, somebody you’re really familiar with and you get along with and we support each other through the whole thing,” Wagner said.
“(Wagner’s) a special player, he uses his speed really well,” Steel said. “(I’m) not surprised he got the invite. It’ll be good to be down there with him.”
Steel said he couldn’t quite remember exactly when he knew he wanted to play for Canada at the World Juniors, but felt it could become a reality in the last few years.
“I’ve watched that tournament ever since I can remember,” Steel said. “To have the opportunity to potentially be a part of it is a huge honour.”
He also remembered being awed by the dominance of the 2005 World Junior Team.
“They had that unbelievable team with Crosby and all those guys. I remember that it was just a really special team and it goes down as one of the best teams of all time,” he said.
Steel currently sits atop the league in points with 41. He’s notched 17 goals and 24 assists so far.
Wagner and Steel will be joined by Moose Jaw Warrior forward Brett Howden and goaltender Connor Ingram, who plays for the Kamloops Blazers but grew up in Imperial, Saskatchewan.
Selection camp begins on Dec. 11.