Drayton’s Nick Spaling was sent home with mononucleosis on Monday – before he even had a chance to show what he can do.
Spaling, 19, was one of 37 hockey players invited to Calgary this week with the eventual hope of being selected for Canada’s National Junior Team.
During physicals team officials were concerned that Spaling showed signs of mono, and blood tests later confirmed it.
Head coach Craig Hartsburg told The National Post Spaling is “a character kid” that “would have had as good a chance as anybody to play on the team.”
The turn of events is no doubt heart-breaking for Spaling, who couldn’t contain his excitement about being invited to try out during an interview with The Community News last week.
“I was a little shocked and excited at the same time,” Spaling said of being invited to the four-day selection camp.
Despite being tied for seventh overall in points in the Ontario Hockey League, Spaling said playing for the National Junior Team never crossed his mind.
“I never really thought of it before,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal to be selected.”
Spaling’s mother, Lorrie said she and her family were “really excited” when they heard Nick would be trying out for the team.
Spaling said he would have had his work cut out for him, as he was one of four players looking for his first ever experience on a regional or national team – but he was optimistic about his chances.
“I don’t have any expectations,” he said of the camp.
“I know it will be a tough camp, but I’ll just try to play my best and we’ll see what happens.”
But unfortunately, he never got that chance.
Spaling was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the second round, 58th overall, in the National Hockey League draft earlier this year.
He currently leads the first place Kitchener Rangers with 28 goals in 31 games. He is tied for third on the team in assists (21), and is third in points (49).
In addition to his improving offensive skills, Spaling is also heralded for his defensive play, which has resulted in increased playing time over the past two seasons.
As of Tuesday, no other players at the Canadian camp – which ends Dec. 14 – showed any symptoms of mono.