The best advice for any players heading to a tryout is to play to their strengths.
In the case of the three Halifax Mooseheads attending this week's Canadian world junior team selection camp in Oakville, Ont., it's obvious what they do best. For Raphael Lavoie it is to shoot.
The six-foot-four winger is most dangerous when he puts the puck on net and he is not shy about letting his pro-level wrister go from anywhere on the ice. Lavoie leads the QMJHL and the entire CHL in shots with 191 in 30 games, an average of 6.4 per game.
One can only imagine how high his total would be if they measured shot attempts because, without exaggeration, it might be double digits with the number of pucks that come off his stick that are deflected or miss the net.
"You want to be playing well before you go and create some good habits that you'll want to bring to the camp," said Lavoie, who is tied for seventh in Quebec league scoring with 44 points.
"I feel like I got ready the best I could and now I'm hoping for the best."
The coach's son
Centre Bo Groulx is a prototypical coach's son in that he plays the game intelligently and responsibly. His father Benoit is legendary for pushing his players to prioritize defence, positioning and hustle, which are some of the Mooseheads captain's best qualities.
He plays in every situation and pays close attention to every detail. For example, he has taken an incredible 769 faceoffs in just 26 games this year and won an impressive 58.5 per cent of them.
"They want a two-way game from me; that's why they're bringing me there," Groulx said. "I'm just going to go there to work really hard, I'm going to be good defensively and if I have some scoring chances that will be a bonus for me."
As Lavoie said, it helps to go into the camp on a roll and Groulx is as hot as anyone in junior hockey at the moment. He's on a 14-game points streak with 10 goals and 15 assists so he might even surprise the team brass with his offence.
"It's my first world junior camp but I did a couple of Team Canada events before so I know what to expect and what they want to see from me," Groulx said. "I'm very excited."
Straight off of rehab
"I was in Detroit until (three) weeks ago. It was pretty well three months of rehab down there,"
- Jared McIsaac
The situation for defenceman Jared McIsaac is a bit different. Working for him is his relationship with Hockey Canada. The 19-year-old from Truro played for the team last year at the world juniors in British Columbia but is only just now getting back into game action.
He had off-season shoulder surgery and has only played three times since returning to the Halifax lineup on Nov. 30. He will get some latitude because he is a returning team member who everyone recognizes is still trying to knock the rust off his game.
"I was in Detroit until (three) weeks ago. It was pretty well three months of rehab down there," said the Red Wings second-round pick."It was pretty gradual at the start.
"I was a little bit behind as far as rehab goes and then we really pushed the strengthening and range of motion with my shoulder. There were a lot of long days of rehab and skating."
Having each other to lean on will also help the three players at the camp. This is their fourth season as teammates.
"I'm going there and I'll see a lot of familiar faces," Groulx said. "I have two teammates and some other guys I know from the Q so I think it's going to be very exciting. We're going to start off with two practices and I'm just going get the nerves out of the way and then see what happens."
Bedford's Peter Diliberatore is also one of the 32 players trying out. He plays defence for Quinnipiac University in the NCAA and is a sixth-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Team Canada head scout Brad MacEwen praised the 19-year-old's puck-moving skills and skating when the invitations were announced last week. There are only 10 defencemen attending camp so the math alone suggests Diliberatore has a legitimate chance to make the final roster.
After the opening practices, a lineup will be selected to play a team of U Sports all-stars on Wednesday and Thursday. Final cuts are expected to be following those games.
Other QMJHL players trying out are Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic), Olivier Rodrigue (Moncton Wildcats) and Dawson Mercer (Drummondville Voltigeurs). The Red Wings have also released center Joe Veleno, who played for Drummondville and the Saint John Sea Dogs before turning pro. Wildcats forward Jakob Pelletier had to withdraw from camp after hurting himself on the weekend.
This year's tournament is in the Czech Republic. Canada's first game is against the United States on Boxing Day.