Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Buzzing The Net is profiling Canadian Hockey League players who are in their NHL draft season.

Saint John Sea Dogs centre Ryan Tesink is proof a career is not hurt by having to wait a little longer.

Tesink, who is NHL Central Scouting's 47th-ranked domestic skater, has made strides as a rookie with the QMJHL favourites after spending a season in Junior A. The native Saint Johner, listed at 5-foot-11 and 157 pounds, acquired a good base by playing with the Woodstock Slammers, where he teamed up with his big brother Brad Tesink and helped the club win the Maritime Hockey League title. Selected by Saint John in the first round, the fleet-footed Tesink has shown off a well-rounded game, which probably explains why observers are high on him for the entry draft. He is one of six Sea Dogs ranked in the North American top 50.

"It helped me a lot — you're playing against stronger guys and older guys," Tesink, who had eight goals and 35 points during the regular season in a supporting role while Saint John tied the Quebec league record of 58 regular-season wins, says of that season in Woodstock. "The [Maritime] league's not as fast [as the QMJHL], but the players are just as strong, especially to a younger guy who's 16. ... Playing with my brother definitely had a big impact . We also had nine 20-year-olds on our team [instead of the maximum three in major junior] and they definitely contributed to me developing, helping me through my first year."

In considering Tesink's progress, he's probably farther along at 17 than teammate Michael Kirkpatrick, who joined Saint John at 17 and is now the QMJHL's active leader in playoff scoring. Another Sea Dogs cog, forward Jason Cameron, went the same route.

"I definitely looked up to him, especially when I was younger watching the team in Saint John," Tesink says of Kirkpatrick. "We went through the same thing."

Playing for a hometown team can be stressful, what with the urge to please othersl. Tesink, who could mark his 18th birthday at the MasterCard Memorial Cup if the Sea Dogs win the Presidents' Cup, says he's learned to handle it.

"At first I felt a bit of pressure, but after a while you realize that everyone is cheering for you, nobody's against you. You have a lot more support than some guys, especially with all your family and friends being close by. It definitely helps you get through it."

1. What do you believe you did to earn your Central Scouting ranking despite your goal drought? (Tesink went goal-less for 37 games at one point, then broke it out with two in, coincidentally, 37 seconds, on March 20 vs. the P.E.I. Rocket.)

"Just the fact that I don't take a shift off and contribute, not always through scoring but by trying to throw my weight around and get pucks deep and just work the other team hard.

"I am pretty happy with where I am ... I had a great start, putting up numbers, then our older players began returning from NHL camps and my ice time went down a bit, as expected. I had a bit of slump mid-season, but I picked it up near the end and entered the playoffs on a good note."

2. Saint John is a pretty deep team. How may have that helped you focus on showing off your skills outside of putting up points?

"It definitely let me play different roles when those guys came back from NHL camps. On any night, I could be playing a scorer's role, a two-way defensive game, or even checking."

3. Some have likened you to a Saint John version of Theo Fleury. What do you say to that?

"I wouldn't say I'm that small, but I play a lot like him ... I've always been a competitive person, even playing fun games. I have to win. I just don't like the idea of losing."

4. What do you consider your proudest hockey achievement?

"Just my overall first year in junior last year, winning a championship in Woodstock with my brother and playing on Team Atlantic in the world under-17, which was an incedible experience."  [Tesink was also the team's leading scorer. — Ed.]

5. What is the worst movie you have watched on the team bus?

"The worst bus movie is probably Inception. It's just a movie you have to focus on so much that's it's not a really good bus movie. You just can't pay attention for the whole time on the bus, you get distracted." [Have you given it another shot?] I haven't. I probably should."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. (Photo: Saint John Sea Dogs.)

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