© File Photo
Amherst’s Josh Pugsley (left) will be facing off against the best Under-17 players in the world beginning Dec. 28 when Team Atlantic plays against Finland.
AMHERST – Josh Pugsley will still be digesting his Christmas turkey when he jumps on a plane to compete in the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Pugsley will play for Team Atlantic in the challenge from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, in Victoriaville and Drummondville, Que.
“We fly out on Boxing Day and I think we practice on Dec. 26 and 27. We have an exhibition game against Finland on the 28th, and then it’s straight into the tournament,” said the 16-year-old Maritime Hockey League Amherst Ramblers forward.
Pugsley attended a selection camp in mid-July, and got the news he made Team Atlantic in mid-November.
“I thought I played really well in my own zone at the camp and I created some offence as well,” he said. “In short tournaments you need players who can play everywhere and adapt to playing with good players, and I think I did that at the camp.
“It was a long wait to find out if I made the team but the wait was well worth it,” he added.
Pugsley said making the team is a confidence booster, and hopes to hit the ground running at the tournament.
“You want to come in hot and play your best right off the bat. You want to have the team chemistry right away so you can have those early wins that you need,” he said. “I’ll try to play my game and play good at my end of the ice and chip in offensively, and do a little bit of everything to help my team.”
Pugsley is a rookie forward with the Amherst Ramblers.
“I feel stronger than I did at the first of the year and I feel faster, so that helps.”
Team Atlantic’s first preliminary game is Dec. 29 against Team Quebec, and then on Dec. 29 they play against Team USA.
“It’s going to be an unreal experience playing against other countries and playing against their best players, and each team we play against will play a different style of game so it will definitely be a great learning experience as well,” he said.
Pugsley goes into the tournament believing Team Atlantic has a chance to win it all.
“We have a lot of skill and a lot of hard workers, so I think we have a good shot,” he said.
Team Atlantic’s schedule is as follows:
Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. – Atlantic vs. Finland (exhibition)
Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m. – Atlantic vs. Quebec
Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic vs. USA
Dec. 31 at 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic vs. Slovakia
Jan. 1 at 1:30 p.m. – Atlantic vs. Ontario
Jan. 2 – Atlantic doesn’t play
Jan. 3 – Semifinals
Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. – Bronze Medal Game
Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m. – Gold Medal Game