U Sports all-stars ready to take on Canadian juniors at selection camp

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — In the midst of exam season, Spencer Abraham’s study break is pretty unique. The 24-year-old Queen’s University law student will put down his books, lace up his skates, and play against Canada’s junior team before getting back to his studies.

Abraham is a defenceman for an all-star team of U Sports hockey players who will play against Canada’s selection camp roster on Wednesday and Thursday to help Hockey Canada evaluate its team before paring it down to 22 players for the world junior championship. He had to postpone two exams by a week in order to participate for the third straight year.

“I’ll study in my hotel room most of the night, tomorrow I’ll get up and do a little more studying, come to the rink for a skate,” said Abraham on Tuesday at the Meridian Centre, where both games will be held. “Go home, do my best to flip that switch. It’s not easy but you get used to it.

“Today focus on my studies and then I’ll have to turn that off come tomorrow night and get ready to play these guys.”

Although it puts a strain on his studies, Abraham is happy to make the sacrifice. He said most hockey players would kill for the opportunity to play against Canada’s junior team.

Abraham’s no stranger to top-flight competition having played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Brampton Battalion and Erie Otters, but playing against Canada’s best is special.

“It’s quite the opportunity to showcase your talent against I think probably the best young players in the world,” said Abraham. “Lots of NHL scouts there. It’s a great opportunity.”

Proving that Canadian university hockey is competitive — and maybe earning a shot at a professional contract — is a big draw for most of the U Sports players. Head coach Brad Peddle, who also coaches for St. FX University, said he uses the presence of NHL scouts to motivate his players.

“This is about representing themselves, their universities, their university programs and U Sports as a whole,” said Peddle. “But it’s also about trying to open up a door for them because they’re good players. If you look in that room, these guys are all guys who’ve played four or five years of major junior hockey.

“We want players to be able to come to university, work on their games, get better while they’re here, get their degrees, then go play pro hockey when they’re done. That’s what these guys aspire to be.”

Abraham knows better than most that the Canadian university all-stars can hang with Canada’s national junior team. In 2015, his first year with the team, Abraham scored the shootout winner as the then-Canadian Interuniversity Sport team beat the junior 3-2.

“It’s something I’ll always remember,” said Abraham. “But you need to have a short memory playing hockey so I’ll use that for confidence coming into this week but it’s a fresh slate here.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
‘We’re in a danger zone,’ says Hinshaw

The province’s top doctor says “we’re in a danger zone” when it… Continue reading

Mayor Tara Veer pleads with the premier Tuesday to review the decision to move to a consolidated EMS dispatch system, which will be moved to three centres across the province. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
‘Issue of life and death’: mayors plead with government to halt consolidated EMS dispatch

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer calls on premier to overturn consolidated EMS dispatch decision

A $2.3-billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system has been approved. “This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get,” says Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Dustin Snider was elected the new board president for Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Earl’s Restaurant manager re-elected Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce president

Dustin Snider has been re-elected president of the Red Deer & Distict… Continue reading

Red Deer singer Kayla Williams hopes listeners fed up with the pandemic are comforted by her new song, Stealing from My Youth, which is digitally available for streaming on Friday. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer singer summarizes universal pandemic feelings in a new single

Kayla Williams releases ‘Stealing From My Youth’ on Friday

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw warms up before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford leaps over a challenge by PSG's Presnel Kimpembe during the Champions League group H soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Hamilton Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis, right, hugs captain Kyle Bekker following their victory in the Canadian Premier League soccer final against the Calgary Cavalry in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Under Smyrniotis, Forge FC has been the class of the Canadian Premier League. The two-time champions from Hamilton look to mark their internationally this week as they open CONCACAF League play in El Salvador. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Players' sticks are shown during a World Hockey Championships game in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A senior hockey team in a small city in southern Manitoba has changed its name following a push against the use of Indigenous names and caricatures as mascots. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Jason Kokrak tees off during the final round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in North Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

The Los Angeles Dodgers line up during during the national anthem and a fly over before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Keegan Messing performs in the Gala at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Most Read