Dan Lambert knows from personal experience the thrill of wearing his country’s colours in international competition.
So the Kelowna Rockets assistant coach has a pretty good take on how Damon Severson and Colton Heffley will be feeling when they don the red and white next month at the World Under-17 Challenge in Manitoba.
The Rockets rookie duo was named this week to the Team West roster, made up of players born in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“I think the experience they’re going to get from this will be a very positive one,” said Lambert who played for Canada at the 1989 world junior championship in Alaska. “Even with Team West, they’re going to get a sense of representing an area bigger than just your city or your province. They are representing Canada as well and that will be a great honour for them to always remember.”
Severson, from Melville, Sask., and Heffley, a native of Swift Current, will play with Team West at the six-country, 10-team event from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie.
It’s an opportunity Severson plans to make the most of.
“It’s a great honour to be named to Team West,” said Severson, the offensively gifted 16-year-old defenceman who has two goals and six points in 20 games with Kelowna. “I’m going there to try and play my best and learn what I can. It’s my first international experience, so I’m pretty excited.”
As for Heffley, wearing the Maple Leaf has been a lifelong goal.
“I’m really excited to go, I thought maybe I had a chance but I wasn’t so sure I’d get picked,” said the lanky Heffley, who has a goal and an assist in four games since joining the Rockets in early November. “It’s been a dream of mine since I started skating to play for Canada, so hopefully this is just the beginning.”
And if all goes well for Severson and Heffley on their maiden voyages, Dan Lambert said it could mark the beginning of a long association with Hockey Canada for the young duo.
“It gives them a chance to play with and against their peers and show Canada what they can do,” he said. “A lot of times in these situations, Canada is very loyal to its players. If you make a good first impression, you tend to stay on their radar for a long time.”
Rocket Shots…The Rockets (10-11-0-0) will visit Prince George for games against the Cougars Friday and Saturday…Head coach Ryan Huska, captain Tyson Barrie and athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn will be back with the Rockets this weekend after taking part in the Subway Super Series between Team WHL and Russia in Kamloops and Prince George…Kelowna’s next home game is Wednesday, Nov. 24 against the Regina Pats…Rockets F Shane McColgan is ranked 15th among WHL players by in Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings for the 2011 NHL entry draft.