Tanner Lishchynsky earned a spot on the Prince George Cougars blueline the old-fashion way with hard work.
The 17-year-old arrived at Cougars training camp in August with the determination to stay in B.C. for the next seven to eight months.
"I came in with the attitude in that if I was going to come all the way out here I was going to have a the attitude to make the team," said Lishchynsky. "I came prepared. I worked really hard in the summer to make the team. Skill-wise I'm not the greatest but otherwise I'm pretty good. I work really hard to get things done."
Lishchynsky was a 10th round pick of the Vancouver Giants in the 2009 WHL bantam draft but after the 2011 training camp the Giants dropped him from their protected list. When the Blazers attended the annual Mac's midget tournament in Calgary last December, Lishchynsky impressed Cougars assistant general manager Wade Klippenstein with his work ethic and play enough for the Cats to add his name to their protected list.
"That's when our team really started to pick it up and come together and I had an all around good game at the Mac's tournament," said Lishchynsky.
In his second season with the Blazers, but first full season, - he was cut at the start of the 2010 season but earned a spot midway through the season - Lishchynsky developed the right skills to attend another WHL camp and make the team. He also served as captain for the Blazers when the team's regular leader was recuperating from injury.
His hard work earned him a contract with the Cougars and he's solidified a place in the team's lineup, earning three straight starts and playing in six games. Cougars head coach Dean Clark has singled him out for praise after as the team's best player after at least two games.
"It gives me lots of confidence and makes me feel a lot better about myself and makes me want to work that much harder to play more games and get in the lineup more," said Lishchynsky.
Clark said he would like to see Lishchynsky's level of compete rub off on other members of the team.
"He came into our camp and all he did was compete," said Clark. "That got him on the team. Now he's competed himself into the starting lineup. He brings a very high competitiveness and he's in the games. We've got to get some guys to compete as hard as that all the time."
Having played only six games in the WHL, Lishchynsky still has a lot to learn and, Clark said he's looking forward to putting the defenceman into different situations. One place he's already played is the penalty kill.
"I just like penalty killing because you've got to work hard the whole time," said Lishchynsky.
Though Lishchynsky lives in Saskatoon, he spends most of his summers on his dad's grain farm, which is about 45 minutes north of the city. He credits his dad for instilling him with his work ethic.
"My dad always taught me to work hard no matter what even when times are tough you've got to keep battling through and eventually it'll work out," said Lishchynsky.