Cut from Team Pacific for the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Cut from Team Canada for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Passed over for a spot at the 2013 CHL Top Prospects Game.
So now the Broncos blueliner finally has the recognition some would say he deserved all along — he was named on April 5 to Team Canada’s roster for the upcoming World Under-18 Hockey Championship — all is right with Heatherington’s world. Right?
Well, sort of.
“I would definitely rather be playing in the playoffs than here, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said Saturday after a morning skate at Canada’s training camp in Toronto.
Ever the competitor, Heatherington was still trying to come to terms with the Broncos’ first-round elimination at the hands of the Calgary Hitmen a week earlier in the WHL’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
It’s the same never-say-die mentality that got him onto Team Canada in the first place and the same attitude that propelled his draft stock to the point where NHL Central Scouting projected him Saturday as a potential first-round pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.
The world championships will be his final, and probably most important, opportunity to cement his draft ranking.
“That’s good for a player when you start improving and playing your best hockey at the end of the year,” said Broncos head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. “That’s when teams are the best, after the trade deadline … and Heather’s done it two years in a row.”
In theory, that would mean that Heatherington is scheduled to play his best hockey of the year around the time worlds get underway April 18 in Sochi, Russia.
Canada will play two exhibition games Sunday and Tuesday as final preparation for the event.
“He’s got the work ethic and he just gets more experienced and polished as the year goes on,” Lamb continued. “He improves all the time and he works hard.
“He’s going to be an NHL player and there’s no one that’s going to stop him from doing it.”
Heatherington is joined on Team Canada by fellow WHL-ers Shea Theodore (Seattle), Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert), Morgan Klimchuk (Regina), Sam Reinhart (Kootenay), Brayden Point (Moose Jaw) and Joe Hicketts (Victoria).
Theodore, Morrissey and Klimchuk all played previously in the Top Prospects Game and the Hlinka Memorial tourney, while Reinhart was also on Canada’s side for the Hlinka.
“I felt like I had a real good camp,” Heatherington said of his Hlinka Memorial snub. “I worked really hard and obviously if anybody doesn’t get selected to any team you feel down. But … playing this year with (Adam) Lowry and (Reece) Scarlett, they really helped me out a lot.”
The world U18 gold medal game will be played April 28.