Troy Bourke is focused on what is and not what might have been.
The Prince George Cougars forward lost out on his first chance to experience an NHL training camp when the league locked out its players last month. Bourke was a third-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche last June.
"It was definitely kind of heartbreaking not to go down there but I know I have no control over that," said Bourke. "I would've liked to have been there but I think what we're building here is pretty special. I'm just trying to improve my game here and, hopefully next year we'll have the NHL."
The 18-year-old's focus may be on taking the Cougars into a deep playoff run, but, Bourke said the thought of one day wearing red and white for Canada at the World Junior Hockey tournament crosses his mind.
"It's always in the back of my mind but I'm not worried about any of that stuff," said Bourke. "I'm just worried about getting better each day, hopefully in the future I'll make a world junior team."
Bourke played in the under-18 tournament in the Czech Republic for Canada but didn't receive an invite to the World Junior camp over the summer.
After suffering an upper-body bruise in the first game of the season, Cougars forward Chase Witala will return to tonight.
"He's a real skilled player and does everything right," said Bourke. "He's one of those guys that can be a game difference maker."
Marc McNulty (upper-body contusion) will miss his second straight game after suffering an injury in last Friday's 4-3 win over Seattle.
The Cougars (3-0-1) will go for their second Friday night home victory of the season when they face the Kelowna Rockets (2-2-1) tonight at CN Centre.
Last season the Cougars struggled to win home Friday games, only snagging two points twice.
"We need the four points against them," said Bourke. "They're just coming off a 7-0 victory [Wednesday] against Vancouver so they're going to be a confident group."
The Cougars and Rockets play a doubleheader tonight and Saturday, both at 7 p.m.