Within a month, Ty Mappin is going to wear Canadian colours for the first time.
The Big Valley boy has been selected to play with Team Pacific for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, set for Drummondville and Victoriaville, Que., during the Christmas holidays.
Pacific is one of five Canadian entries in the 10- team international tournament, which runs Dec. 29 through Jan. 4.
Mappin is a 16-year-old rookie centre with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. He was in the Washington State city when he learned of his selection to Team Pacific, which is made up of 11 Albertans and 11 British Columbia players.
“It was nice to get that news,” Mappin said last week from Everett.
“You always knew that (scouts) were at every game, so you just played every game as hard as you could to make a good impression on them. It’s an honour to be picked among the best in Western Canada … or Pacific Canada.
“My agent (Jay Batchelor) called me the day that we were supposed to find out, so I didn’t hear it from the team first-hand, but it was nice to hear from somebody that I made (Team Pacific), because it had been tough here at the start of the season.”
Mappin plans to return home Dec. 17 for a weeklong Christmas break. He departs for the world under-17 championship on Dec. 26, and he’ll have family in tow. His parents, Greg and Doreen, and brothers Cass and Kyle and their girlfriends, all plan to visit Quebec for a hockey holiday.
They made travel plans immediately after the Pacific roster was announced.
“My parents had to get some tickets for the entire family,” Mappin said. “Everyone is coming up to support me. It should be a good experience.”
Mappin experienced the glory of a Telus Cup national championship last April when he helped the Red Deer Optimist Rebels win the Canadian midget crown in Leduc. Mappin was the youngest player on that team, but also its top scorer.
He stepped into the Everett spotlight this fall with the kind of attention befitting a player chosen seventh overall in the 2011 WHL bantam draft. Wearing No. 7, he’s adapting to major junior after early growing pains.
“When I came down here, I guess you could say I was a little bit cocky after that (Telus Cup) win, but I’ve come back down to normal,” Mappin said. “With all the stuff you have to go through down here, you can’t have that kind of attitude.
“It was more just thinking I could control the puck like I did in midget. It’s even harder now. Like I said before, going up to midget from bantam, it was tight-checking — I didn’t have as much time with the puck. But right now, it’s even more intense (in junior). It’s got to be on your stick and then off in less than a second.”
Mappin dressed up as a hockey player on Halloween night and scored his first WHL goal as Everett visited the mighty Portland Winterhawks.
He intercepted the puck and used linemate Reid Petryk as a decoy on a two-on-one break.
“I just came in and faked the pass and then went five-hole and in,” Mappin said. “It definitely helped me gain a little bit of confidence.
“It was nice to get the monkey off the back. And I guess I’ve been putting up a few more points (since then). I had a point streak going for a little while, and then it just dropped off again, but I’m sure if I keep playing hard, it’ll come back. It always does.”
The puck from his first WHL goal was mounted on a plaque that hangs in his dressing-room stall.
Mappin, who scored in front of his parents during an Everett home game two weeks ago, had three goals and nine points after 28 games.
“It’s been going pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been getting quite a bit of ice time, which is nice to see. With a bunch of guys out (with injuries), I’ve been getting a lot more lately.
“(Off the ice), I’ve got great billet parents, so they help me make the transition pretty easily.”
Mappin and fellow Silvertips rookie forward Carson Stadnyk, a Saskatoon native, live with the same billet family in Everett. The buddies banter with each other about who might finish the season with more points.
“Maybe it’s for a room next year — a better room,” Mappin joked when asked what’s at stake in such a bet.
Silvertips teammate Tyler Sandhu of Richmond, B.C., will join Mappin with Team Pacific. The 13 forwards include Red Deer Rebels rookie centre Conner Bleackley of High River.
En route to the world under-17 tournament, Mappin plans to take his driver’s-licence test in Stettler during his Big Valley stopover.
On the ice, he continues to pass each test as the Silvertips try to weather a rebuilding season and the loss of captain Ryan Murray, whose shoulder surgery scheduled for this month has bumped him from playing with Team Canada in the world junior championship.
“It’s hard losing a good player like Ryan Murray,” Mappin said. “He always rallies the boys. He gets them going. He’s probably one of the best captains you could ask for in your future career. It’s too bad that he has to be injured in probably his last year in the league.”
In the NHL entry draft last spring, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Murray second overall. He’s from White City, Sask.