Wotherspoon ready for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship
CALGARY, AB -- On Thursday, hours after he found out he would be suiting up for Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, Calgary Flames prospect Tyler Wotherspoon was understandably still absorbing what had taken place that afternoon.
He looked a little shocked at the official roster unveiling, admitting the experience felt "surreal."
Now, just over a day later, he has wrapped his head around the reality of situation.
"It has sunk in now," he smiled after Team Canada's final skate in Calgary. "I'm feeling really good now. It was nice to get out there and practice; get the legs going again after the day off yesterday.
"It's been a long couple days but I'm feeling good and can't wait to get started."
While Wotherspoon had confidence that he could be a part of Team Canada prior to the Subway Super Series, his hopes for making the roster were boosted by his performance with Team WHL last month.
"It was kind of a showcase place for me, especially after not being invited to Russia (for the Canada-Russia Challenge) this summer," he said. "I thought I took advantage of that opportunity and I played well."
The 19 year-old was perhaps one of the least noticeable players on the ice all week at camp but that was a good thing when it came to evaluations given the role the coaching staff want him to play in the tournament.
"I tried to stick what they wanted me to do. They want me to be a reliable, shutdown defenceman. One they can count one and one that makes simple plays.
"That's what I focused on in this camp and thought I did that well."
Wotherspoon will be battling primarily with Edmonton Oil Kings blueliner Griffin Reinhart and Kitchener Rangers rearguard Ryan Murphy for ice time and head coach Steve Spott expects it be a fierce competition for those minutes.
"That's going to be a work in progress," he said of the bottom three defencemen. "We've got some big kids down there with Reinhart, Wotherspoon and Ryan Murphy is going fill that need for 5-on-4 play, 5-on-3 play, 4-on-4. Murph understands that and is excited for that opportunity on the big ice.
"Between Reinhart, Wotherspoon and Ryan Murphy, those three guys will be jockeying for that ice time."
As always, the expectations for Team Canada are extremely high but Wotherspoon believes the squad is ready and has the talent to bring home gold.
"All these guys are top, high-end talent and we're ready to mesh together and get going ... We were all raised to want gold so it's in the back our minds and that's what we're going out there to do."
The Burnaby, BC native made sure to give credit to the Flames organization for aiding his development as a player, pointing out how much the summer training camps have helped him over the last couple of years.
"Every year we go to development camp and they're great teachers, great developers. Every time I went to that camp, I learned something new and got better."