Haydn Fleury wasn’t necessarily sitting by his phone Sunday night, but he was awaiting a call.
Sure enough, his phone rang and the Hockey Canada person on the other end had good news for the Red Deer Rebels defenceman.
“I was a bit nervous last night, like I’m sure everyone was,” Fleury said Monday, less than 24 hours after learning that he will attend the Canadian junior national team final selection camp Dec. 11-15 in Toronto and St. Catharines, Ont. “Just to get that phone call was a bit relieving.
“It’s a huge honour to have the chance to represent my country. It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Canada at Christmas time.”
The 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship will be played Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal.
Fleury has yet to reach the pinnacle of his game this season, but stood out at the national squad’s summer development camp and was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes seventh overall in June’s NHL entry draft. The six-foot-three, 205-pound rearguard also has a history with Hockey Canada, playing for Team West in the World Under 17 Challenge and twice suiting up with the country’s under-18 team.
The 18-year-old has scored once and added nine assists with 37 minutes in penalties in 24 games this season. He’s also a minus-7 in the plus/minus category, but his play has improved over the past handful of games and he realizes he’ll have to be at his best going into the selection camp.
“I have to start preparing to play the right way leading into the camp. If I can do that and help the Rebels win games, I’ll have some momentum going into the camp.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty good lately. I kind of had a slow start to the season but my game has been coming around and I’ve been playing with a lot more confidence. And helping the Rebels win games is always a bonus.”
The Rebels have been a force at home this season. The club is riding an eight-game home-ice winning streak and is 9-3-1-0 at the Centrium heading into tonight’s clash with the visiting Calgary Hitmen.
“We’ve established dominance on home ice this year. That wasn’t the case last season so it’s really nice to see this year,” said Fleury. “We’re on a bit of a run and we’re going to try to keep that going.”
The Rebels’ secret to success is actually quite uncomplicated, said the Rebels blueliner.
“We’re just playing our style,” he said. “We’re not the most skilled team in the league, we’re not going to wow people with toe drags or anything like that.
“We’re just going to keep playing a straight-line game and work teams down low. We have three lines that can dominate any defence corps down low and we’re just going to keep doing that and generate offence that way.”
The Red Deer blueline brigade has also been a strength this season.
“I think we have the most depth on D than any team in the league,” Fleury insisted. “We have three pairings that can make plays any night and shut down the other team’s lines. It’s been really exciting to see.”
Fleury will attend the national team selection camp with the intention of not only earning a berth with the squad, but securing a spot on the roster as a go-to guy.
“I feel there’s not doubt that I can play at that level and that’s my goal — to be not just a player on the team but a key player who is used in all situations,” he said.