Essentially, next season begins next week for Big Valley hockey standout Ty Mappin.
After a national-championship season with the midget AAA Red Deer Rebels, Mappin is among 34 players from Alberta and British Columbia invited to the Team Pacific under-17 summer camp July 25-29 in Kamloops, B.C.
The 16-year-old centre is among 18 forwards on the shortlist, which includes 12 defencemen and four goaltenders.
“I guess all the best players from B.C. and Alberta will be there, so it should be fun,” said Mappin, who plans to make the trip Monday.
“It should be pretty tough, too, with all those players from B.C. that you’ve never seen. They’ll give you some pretty good competition.”
After the regional summer camp, the prospects will be scouted with their club teams until November, when the Team Pacific management committee plans to announce the 22-man roster that will represent Alberta and B.C. at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
That tournament is scheduled to run from Dec. 28, 2012, to Jan. 4, 2013, in Victoriaville and Drummondville, Que.
Last fall, Mappin played with Team Alberta, the gold-medallist in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup at Moose Jaw, Sask.
In his rookie season in the Alberta Midget Hockey League, Mappin led the Rebels in scoring and helped them win the Telus Cup national championship in April at Leduc. He was seventh in AMHL scoring with 19 goals and 42 points in 34 regular-season games.
This coming season, Mappin is poised to join the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips, the Western Hockey League team that drafted him seventh overall in 2011.
“I’ve been working out quite a bit lately, pretty much every day,” said Mappin, who trains in Stettler with older brother Cass, a member of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
“Lots of sprints and weights with squats and what not. Trying to build some strength for the next season, with all those bigger and stronger guys.”
Conner Bleackley, whom the Red Deer Rebels chose in the first round of the 2011 WHL bantam draft, is among the Team Pacific forward candidates bound for Kamloops next week.
The 16-year-old High River native played with the midget AAA UFA Bisons last winter, during which he dressed for 16 WHL games with Red Deer.
The 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is billed as a showcase of the top players in the world born in 1996 or later. The tournament is made up of 10 teams, including five from Canada — Quebec, Ontario, Pacific, Atlantic and West (Manitoba and Saskatchewan). Five other countries, including the U.S., are represented in the Christmastime tourney.
At the 2012 world under-17 championship in Windsor, Ont., Team Pacific finished in fifth place after defeating Quebec 5-4 in overtime.
Team Pacific’s notable graduates include the likes of NHLers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, Brent Seabrook, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Green and Jarome Iginla, and former NHL star Joe Sakic.