A local product is getting the opportunity of a lifetime in Calgary one month from now.
Carson Bjarnason made a name for himself this year with the Brandon Wheat Kings, earning a backup role as a 16-year-old undrafted prospect. His impressive play has now earned him a chance to prove himself in front of the U18 Team Canada coaches.
The Carberry native says he's astonished by the accomplishment.
"The first big thing is how much of an honour it is. Still being 16 and having the opportunity to represent my country on that wide of a spectrum, the feeling can't be put into words," Bjarnason continues. "It's something I only thought I would dream of. So, this is a huge honour, one of the biggest honours."
This will be the first time Bjarnason will be involved with Team Canada at any level. He outlines what he wants to show the coaches.
"That I can handle it. I can handle the pressure that comes with this, and I can handle the big games that are, hopefully, to come as Canada has a great reputation for bringing home gold," Bjarnason explains. "Canada's hockey prospects are unbelievable, and to be put among the top 88, it's something you can't describe."
While the goalie plans to give everything he has on the ice, Bjarnason says there is more to a hockey player than just the game itself.
"I think I'm a good kid. I give back to my community, and am respectful to everybody," Bjarnason notes. "I think showing that I'm a good hockey player but an even better person is one of the big things I'm looking forward to."
This time last year, Bjarnason could have given up on his dreams as he wasn't selected in the WHL draft and had to wait until the eighth round of the MJHL Draft to hear his name called. Instead of being discouraged, the Carberry product worked harder than ever and ultimately, beat out two drafted prospects for a roster spot with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2021 preseason.
He wasn't satisfied with just a roster spot either as Bjarnason has continued to put in the work throughout this year, ending his rookie season with a record of 8-10-1. The goalie outlines what it is like to now start to see the fruit of his labour.
"It's eye-opening," says Bjarnason. "It's a great feeling knowing you're being recognized, and that your name is out there. I didn't know if I was in the running or not, and I hadn't really thought about it until I got the call. It's humbling, and it's going to be a great experience, whether I make the team or not. I'm thrilled."
The Wheat King says he's looking forward to playing against some of the best players in the nation and adds he will be taking in every bit of feedback the coaches have for him.
Bjarnason has a message for all young aspiring hockey players.
"If any other kid has an opportunity like this, really soak it in, and put in the work. If you're getting invited, I assume your future is pretty bright. So, just work as hard as you can, stay humble, and stick to your roots. Other than that, just enjoy it. Hockey is a fun game, and that's why we play it."
Bjarnason will be in Calgary for the summer selection camp from July 20th to 23rd, with the opportunity to play in the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup from July 31st to August 6th in Red Deer, Alberta.