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Victoria Royals' Schuurman turns setbacks into opportunities

When the hockey gods sent ­Victoria Royals forward Brayden Schuurman a bag of hockey pucks, he opened it only to find it full of lemons. But, as the old saying goes, Schuurman squeezed them tight to make something positive.
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Royals forward Brayden ­Schuurman just returned from the Edmonton Oilers prospects camp. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

When the hockey gods sent ­Victoria Royals forward Brayden Schuurman a bag of hockey pucks, he opened it only to find it full of lemons. But, as the old saying goes, Schuurman squeezed them tight to make something positive.

His Royals lost on the last game of the Western Hockey League regular season to miss the playoffs. The consolation was he got to jet off to Germany for the world U-18 championship on the Canadian team made up of the best players from junior teams that missed the playoffs or were eliminated early, including Royals teammate Kalem Parker and touted 2023 NHL draft heavyweights Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats and Matthew Wood of the Victoria Grizzlies.

As the 58th rated North American skater in the midway rankings for the 2022 NHL draft, Schuurman had every expectation of being selected this month, but was overlooked. So again the lemonade machine went into overdrive. Schuurman received a free-agent invitation to the Edmonton Oilers week-long prospects camp, which ­concluded Friday.

“It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions,” said Schuurman.

“But when one thing falls through, new opportunities open up.”

They certainly did for him.

“I was a bit upset about not being drafted. I thought I would be, and deserved it,” said ­Schuurman.

“But the draft is not the be-all and end-all and sometimes you’ve got to create your own opportunities. The Oilers allowed me a chance to showcase my game at the pro level. I learned a lot in the prospects camp, especially about how dedicated and competitive it is at that level. It’s a business up there and everybody wants a spot.”

Schuurman said he did well in Oilers camp: “I felt really good about my pace at the pro level. And before that, it was huge to be in the world championships against the top U-18 players from around the world in Germany.”

That’s what you call taking a big gulp from the lemonade ­bottle.

What happened over the spring and summer gives Schuurman added confidence heading into the 2022-23 Royals season in Victoria: “I have to step forward as leader on the team.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com