O'Flynn offers Telus experience to his Toronto teammates

Matthew Gourlie
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Kaelan O'Flynn knows what to expect from the Telus Cup.

Kaelan O'Flynn from the Toronto Young Nationals takes a shot in front of Prince Albert Mintos forward Teal Sobkowicz during the opening game at the Telus Cup national midget AAA hockey tournament at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

That is one of the reasons he knows there's no need to panic after an opening game loss for his Toronto Young Nationals.

O'Flynn, a 17-year-old defenceman, played at the Telus Cup last year for his hometown Sault Ste. Marie North Stars when they hosted the event.

"It's pretty exciting being back here for the second time and actually earning it this time — so I'm pretty excited to be here," said O'Flynn.

The Nationals lost 4-1 to Prince Albert Monday, but O'Flynn knows there's no reason to panic after the first day of the tournament.

"It's a long tournament and you definitely have to have a short memory here," said O'Flynn. "It's just one game. It's just about bouncing back.

"We had a lot of jitters and a lot of nerves kicked in, in the first period. We settled down in the second period. I think we definitely have better hockey in us."

O'Flynn and Halifax McDonald's goalie Justin Ritcey are the only players who have previous Telus Cup experience in the tournament.

While O'Flynn has been the go-to source for all things Telus Cup since his team won the Central Regional title — top queries involved the media and what kind of free things were given out at the tournament — and he feel his experience is helping his game as well.

"It makes it easier for me. I'm more composed and I can tell the guys what it's like before we got here," said O'Flynn. "They were asking me a lot of questions and I was just trying to ease everyone in so we can play good hockey."

Sault Ste. Marie finished tied with Ottawa with five points last year, but lots the tiebreaker and finished fifth. They were a point behind the two teams that were tied in second.

While he enjoyed his experience with his hometown team, he's happy with his decision to spend his final midget season in Toronto.

"Our assistant coach Jason Fortier is from the Soo and that's how they got me here," said O'Flynn. "It's tough. My mom wanted me to finish high school at home, but the change obviously worked out for me."

O'Flynn had 14 points in only 13 games this season with the Nationals. He was a key contributor in the playoffs and the Central Regionals as he picked up a goal and 15 assists.

At last year's tournament, the North Stars were spurred on by large vocal crowds. That was a big difference from the modest gathering for the tournament opener at noon on Monday.

"We definitely don't get a lot of fans back home because there's a lot of junior A teams, but there were some fans here. I'm pretty sure Wednesday when we play the host team the atmosphere will be through the roof," said O'Flynn.

Organizations: Telus, Prince Albert, North Stars

Geographic location: Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa

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