When Canada announced its selection camp roster November 29th, there was no player more anonymous than that of Phillip Di Giuseppe.
The 18-year-old draft eligible forward was just one of two of the original 41 players named from the collegiate ranks. Jaden Schwartz, the other, a celebrated returnee from Canada’s silver medal entry from a year ago.
By even coach Don Hay’s admission, Di Giuseppe was entering Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp as a relative unknown.
But after a goal and an assist in Canada’s first intra-squad game, Di Giuseppe was able to properly introduce himself to his potential bench boss.
“I’ve never seen him before so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Hay said. “What Kevin (Prendergast) described him as, he showed today.”
Di Giuseppe is more than aware that he’s at a disadvantage. Few are familiar with the University of Michigan freshman, which gives the Maple, ON. native less of an opportunity to impress.
That’s exactly what Hay told Di Giuseppe heading into camp.
“He said right away ‘don’t step up late’,” Di Giuseppe admitted. “He said come in and work your hardest. That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s obviously nerve-wracking with all these great players here. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
Hay was forced to take notice after Di Giuseppe scored and added an assist in Canada’s first intra-squad game. It was the first step towards the six-foot-one, 200 pounder making Canada’s World Junior entry.
Now, Hay said, he has to build on it.
“I think he has got to have three really good days,” Hay said. “That’s important. I thought he did good things today. He’s got to do it consistently tomorrow and the next day. I thought he played well today so I think he’s right where he needs to be.”
Still, Di Giuseppe doesn’t feel the stress to perform.
“I don’t think I have any pressure,” he admitted. “I’m not coming as one of the highly touted guys. There are obviously great guys here, first and second rounders, guys who have been to the camp before. I’m just coming in and trying to do my best.”
Which could be Di Giuseppe’s formula for becoming a household name.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!