Surrey’s Michael Rasmussen was in Kamloops for the World Junior Showcase tournament hosted by Hockey Canada from July 28 to Aug. 4. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey’s Rasmussen shoots for gold with Team Canada in Vancouver/Victoria

Big forward also eyes roster spot with Detroit Red Wings this fall

This winter, Michael Rasmussen would love the chance to play for Team Canada at a rink in his own backyard, so to speak.

The Surrey-raised hockey player has a good shot of wearing the maple leaf when Vancouver and Victoria host the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship starting in December.

“It’d be pretty cool to play so close to home, for sure. It’s a great hockey town, my hometown, so it’s cool,” said Rasmussen, 18.

“I’ve watched (the World Junior tournament) for as long as I can remember, and when I was younger they won pretty much every year I watched, so there’s lots of memories there,” he added. “You know, watching guys like (John) Tavares and the big (Jordan) Eberle play, stuff like that is very memorable. I grew up watching pretty much every year.”

Last week, the six-foot-five Rasmussen was noticed for his power-forward potential during the 2018 Sport Check World Junior Showcase tourney held in Kamloops. In three games played, he scored twice and added two assists, and was physical when needed.

• RELATED STORY: Schedule released for world junior hockey championship in B.C., from Aug. 3.

The Now-Leader caught up with the Detroit Red Wings prospect before the tournament’s first whistle.

“I grew up with a lot of these guys, playing with them in the (Hockey Canada) program, and it’s fun to get going here,” said Rasmussen, the left-shooting resident of the Morgan Creek area.

“It was exciting to get that call (to participate in the Showcase),” he added. “It’s always cool to be part of these camps and see all the guys, and have a chance to wear the logo again, it’s good.”

In Kamloops, Rasmussen was among 24 forwards on the two Team Canada rosters, adding to a personal resumé that includes his participation in the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and, with Team B.C., the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Rasmussen recently played a big role in Tri-City Americans’ playoff run in the WHL. For his efforts in early April, he was named the league’s On the Run Player of the Week.

• RELATED STORY: WHL Player of the Week: Surrey’s Rasmussen big for Americans in playoffs, from April 2018.

The Semiamoo Minor Hockey alum, who went to school at Southridge and, briefly, Earl Marriott Secondary, was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, ninth overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

This fall, he’d love to play his first NHL game with the fabled Motor City team.

“I went to development camp last month there, so I’ll go to (training) camp again and do my best, and I’m going to try to make the team, that’s pretty much it,” Rasmussen said confidently. “There’s lots of opportunity there, and I have a good shot to make the team, I just have to do well and play my game. It’s all on me.”

If he doesn’t permanently suit up with the Red Wings this season, Rasmussen could return to Tri-City Americans for another run at a Memorial Cup next spring.

• RELATED STORY: Dream come true’ for NHL draft pick Michael Rasmussen, from June 2017.

Five years ago, heading into his second year of Bantam hockey, Rasmussen made a difficult decision to leave Semiahmoo to play at Okanagan Hockey Academy in Kelowna.

“Those were two of my biggest years in hockey, for sure, just with the coaching staff and how much I learned about the game, it was huge,” he said about his experience at OHA. “I realized I could be a hockey player and realized I could be a good player, so it was great. My billets were unreal there, so overall it was the best experience of my life.”

It wasn’t easy leaving home as a 13-year-old, he admitted.

“And it was tough to leave my buddies back home, too, guys I played with, but I knew it was the best thing to do at the time,” Rasmussen said. “I was definitely pretty young leaving home, at that age, but it was the best thing to do for hockey and that’s what I needed to do.”

Today, Rasmussen is playing his way to a pro career, with an appearance at the high-profile World Junior tournament a good possibility.

Team Canada head coach Tim Hunter knows what it takes to win gold, as he was an assistant when the squad won the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo last January.

“He just wants us to compete, and he’s given us a bit of a baseline about his expectations, of the style of play he wants, so it’s about that and trusting your teammates and also having some fun, getting to know the guys,” Rasmussen said about his week in Kamloops. “He’s a great coach and a good leader for us, so that’s good.”

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Torched-SUV victim ‘had the purest heart,’ says sister

Family of teen found in burned SUV in Surrey appeals for justice

United Way to bring little libraries to Clayton

United Way is hoping to partner with residents to host the free gathering spaces for the community

Delta to give Deltassist $75,000 for seniors programs

The funding will replace a grant from United Way that’s set to expire next year

In split vote, Surrey council gives early nod to draft budget

Councillors Locke, Pettigrew, Hundial and Annis vote against capital program

White Rock sandcastle competition on the rocks

Backers of the proposal – the White Rock Events Society – plan to call it quits

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

Most Read