Brett Bulmer earned an invitation when it mattered most.
After being passed over for Hockey Canada’s development camp in the summer, the Kelowna Rockets forward is one of 41 players to make the grade for the national junior team’s final selection camp Dec. 10 to 14 in Calgary.
Twenty-two players will make the final cut for the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” said Bulmer, 19. “It means a lot to me, watching this tournament every year, you dream about getting a chance to play in it. The opportunity has come along for me, now I have to make the most of it.”
After an unspectacular 2010-11 WHL season, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Prince George native was off Hockey Canada’s radar for the national junior squad.
But that all began to change when Bulmer challenged for a full-time roster spot this season with NHL’s Minnesota Wild. He had three assists in nine games with the Wild before being returned to Kelowna last month.
And Bulmer hasn’t missed a beat with the Rockets where he has registered six goals and nine assists and a +6 rating in 10 games.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said Bulmer made it difficult for Hockey Canada’s brain trust to overlook him a second time.
“That’s the great thing about this tournament, a lot of times players don’t make the summer camp, but if you can get off to a great start to the season then you give yourself a chance, and Brett’s done that,” Huska, who will be behind the Team Canada bench assisting Don Hay. “In a short-term tournament, you look at guys who give you the best chance of winning and Brett has worked his way into that group.
“Brett pretty much earned his opportunity,” Huska continued. “He showed people he could play at a high level and he showed in Minnesota he could change his game, he played a third line role and that got him a lot of attention.”
Bulmer plans to take the same approach next month at the junior selection camp as he did at Wild training camp in September.
“I need to come every day, show up and prove that I belong there…really relish the opportunity,” said Bulmer. “You have to adapt and adjust to what they want from you. I’ll take any role, whatever it takes to make the team.”
Huska will leave for the selection camp in Calgary Dec. 8, with Bulmer to follow the next day.
Joining Huska in Calgary for the WJC will be Rockets athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn who will serve as a member of Canada’s training staff.
Rocket Shots…The Rockets will host the Tri-City Americans Wednesday at Prospera Place…Kelowna (10-12-2-1) has won four of its last five games…The Americans (19-6-0-0) have won nine of the last 10 games…Kelowna will host the Victoria Royals Friday.