Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Stone Taking Game to International Stage

Mark Stone is taking his game to the international stage.

The Brandon Wheat Kings' captain was named to Canada's roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship on Wednesday.

"Everything really hasn't sunk in yet," said Stone in an interview from Calgary on Wednesday, "It's going to be the first time I've ever represented my country. I'm one of 22 guys that are probably the happiest guys in the world right now."

Making the roster is just step #1 for Stone and the other 21 players on Canada's roster.

What will follow over the next few weeks will be the pressure of representing Canada at the most hyped international hockey tournament in his home country.

"It's going to be the most pressure I've ever been under as a hockey player and I'm ready for the challenge, I think we all are," said Stone, "I think we're going to have a good couple of days in Banff, gel as a team, and I think everybody is just as excited as I am."

Stone's inclusion on Canada's roster is the next step in his rise to junior hockey stardom over the last 18 months.

"I've worked very hard in the summers, and Ottawa has given me a lot of tools to be successful. They've helped out with my skating, and I owe a lot to them," said Stone, "I credit (Power Skating Instructor) Mark Power to improving my stride to be able to compete at this level."

Stone has registered 171 points over his last 104 games with the Wheat Kings including a WHL leading 65 points in 33 games this year.

Stone is the latest in a long line of Wheat Kings to don Canada's colours for the World Junior Hockey Championship, a list that includes one of Stone's former Brandon teammates in Brayden Schenn.

"Once I got to Brandon, Schenner was one of the top players in the league. He was one of my role models, I wanted to play like him," said Stone, "I owe a lot to him...he's given me some great advice over the last few months."

Other Wheat Kings to wear Canada's colours at the World Junior including Jordin Tootoo, Peter Schaefer, Marty Murray, Wade Redden, Trevor Kidd and Brad McCrimmon.

Canada will play three pre-competition games, Monday against Finland in Calgary; next Thursday against Switzerland in Red Deer and next Friday versus Sweden in Edmonton.

The 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship opens Boxing Day in Edmonton with Canada facing Finland.

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