Continuing his guest blogging series with us today is Travis Ewanyk, forward of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The product of St.Albert, AB wrote Part I back in October and followed that up with Part 2 in December. Part 3 came out in early March. Since then the Oil Kings reached the playoffs, lost in a 4-game sweep to Red Deer and Ewanyk had the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2011 World U18s in Germany.
In his own words, here's Travis Ewanyk's account of the last several weeks...
With spring in full swing, and summer on its way, the last part of my season was a whirlwind to say the least. Battling through a hard series with Red Deer, and then having a quick turn around to going overseas to Germany, it’s been a past couple of months I won’t soon forget.
Starting off back at the end of March, which feels much longer ago than it is, we had a young team with little playoff experience, making our final push to get in. The team really rallied at the end of the year, and our confidence was high going into the first round with Red Deer. It was a unique experience as it felt like the city was really starting to have our backs, and it showed with the attendance, with the final game of the season at home drawing in close to 13,000.
Going in to the first round against Red Deer we knew what to expect as far as the team we were playing, but I think as a group we were all taken back a bit by the level of play the playoffs elevate too, and we found ourselves down two games to nothing coming back home to our own ice.
The first two games were not blowouts by any means, and with this we still had the mindset that we could comeback in the series. We knew game three would be pivotal, and we played a great game that easily could of gone either way, but like the first two, we found ourselves on the losing side once again. Going into the series we knew it would not be easy, so being down three we knew we had an uphill battle, but one that was not impossible. We came out strong in game four once again not going to let Red Deer walk away with the series, but at the end of the game our fate was sealed and our season was over.
Personally I was given the job to “shadow” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the series, a player I knew was as shifty the come, and could see the ice like no other player in the league. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy task by any means as in my opinion Ryan should deservingly be the first overall pick in this years NHL draft. With this said I thought overall 5-on-5, my line (that consisted at most of times of Rhett Rachinski and Klarc Wilson or Colton Stephenson with Mark Pysyk and Keegan Lowe on the back end) did a good job of not letting him find the back of the net when we were on the ice. Unfortunately discipline was one of the factors that sent us home in 4 games, as on the power play, just like any player of that level will do, he and his team made us pay.
This year we had an exceptionally tight team, and one that we can definitely build off for next year. Unfortunately we lose our three 20 year olds in Jordan Hickmott, Mike Piluso, and Adrian Van de Mosselaer. All were great players and leaders on our team, and I am sure their hockey careers will continue either in CIS or pro hockey. On the bright side we have returning a great group of guys, including our top scorers Mike St. Croix, Dylan Wruck, and TJ Foster, along with Curtis Lazar who will be playing his first year as a 16 year old. On defence we have guys like Keegan Lowe, Griffin Reinhart and 16 year old Mason Geertsen, and of course depending on Mark Pysyk’s agenda with Buffalo, I hope for our team’s sake we get him back. In net we had two great goalies capable of returning in Jon Groenheyde and Laurent Brossoit.
After the hard fought series against the Rebels, with my gear hardly dry, I received great news that I would be representing my country in Germany at the national U18’s. The experience of putting on the Canadian sweater is one any player dreams of, and with players on the team like Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murray, Mark Scheifele, and local boys I grew up playing with in Colin Smith, Reece Scarlett and Mark Mcneil it was an experience I won’t soon forget.
We did not achieve our goal of the Gold Medal even though I truly think we were capable with the players we had. At the end of the day the level of play of the other countries now like Russia, Sweden, Finland and the US is so high, it was any team's tournament to win. We lost out in a heart-breaking overtime loss to the US, a game in which we battled back from a 3-goal deficit in the third, to tie the game up in the last minute.
I have had to re-adjust my focus once again, and so I am back in the gym training for the upcoming NHL combine where I will be joined by my teammates Mike St. Croix and Laurent Brossoit. Until then I get the opportunity to train with two other teammates in Stephane Legault and Keegan Lowe, alongside our trainer Simon Bennet who I can’t say enough good things about.
I look forward to checking in one more final time after the combine, and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and follow my Oil Kings team, and myself in our season.
(Photos: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings / Hockey Canada / IIHF Images)
Travis Ewanyk finished the season with 16 goals and 27 points through 72 regular season games with the Oil Kings. He's also racked up 126 PIMs along the way. He is listed at 6'.05 and 178lbs and was ranked 70th in North America by NHL Central Scouting in their mid-term rankings of the eligible players for the 2011 NHL Draft. That improved to 66th when the final rankings came out just before the World U18s began.