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Sudbury Wolves’ Kyle Capobianco makes his debut in Russia: Making The Jump

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Capobianco was one of 3 Oakville defencemen taken in the priority selection's first 20 picks (Aaron Bell, OHL  …

Kyle Capobianco should shuck the new-kid label fairly quickly with the Sudbury Wolves.

Heading north to begin his OHL career also means getting an early start on the season since the Wolves are waving the Maple Leaf as the defending champion at the Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia, which begins on Saturday. For Capobianco, an aspiring offensive defenceman, it's an icebreaker with his new teammates.

"Competing overseas against the best [club] teams from Europe, it's the first chance for me to do that," says Capobianco, who was Sudbury's No. 7 overall choice in April's OHL priority selection draft. "You always hope that one day you could be on the [Canadian] world junior team, but I never expected this.

"The guys [who helped Sudbury win the 2012 JCWC] have said it's a great experience and it really helped everyone get to know each other better and it helped them early on in the season, helped them gel more."

Capobianco's points of emphasis for his yearling season with Sudbury include being choosier about when to rush the puck, along with showing he can be sturdy physically. After moving from the Toronto Marlboros to the Oakville Rangers for his minor midget season, progressed well in his decision-making. On the latter count, he came to the Wolves' camp at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds.

"It's been a lot of faster, it's physical sometimes and it's been a good experience so far," Capobianco says of his first couple days with Sudbury, which departs for Russia on Wednesday.

Meantime, Capobianco can dine out on his encounter earlier this year with the greatest rushing defenceman of all. While he and his parents, Julie and Tony, were mulling family advisers, they had Bobby Orr over for supper one night. While it was business-related, there couldn't help but be a wow factor for the 15-year-old with NHL dreams.

"It took me a little while to realize that Bobby Orr was sitting across the table from me eating dinner," says Capobianco, who has a relatively late Aug. 13 birthday. "It was kind of funny because he went up to my room to see how neat my room was and he saw a picture of himself flying in the air after scoring the game-winner [in the 1970 Stanley Cup final]. He was, 'oh, there's a picture of me.' "

1. In what areas of the game do you really want to show improvement by the end of your first season in junior?

"Just making simple plays and learning defensive responsibility and being a threat on the ice."—

2. Which NHL player(s) do you watch because he, or they, play a style close to what you try to do on the ice?

"Oliver-Ekman Larsson on the Phoenix Coyotes. He's a good skater and uses his stick well in the defensive zone."

3. When you look over the schedule, is there a player or OHL team you really anticipate going up against?

"The Erie Otters and Dylan Strome because I grew up playing with him on the Marlies [Toronto Marlboros in minor hockey] and then last year we were battling in the OHL Cup final. Growing up, in practice, we always wanted to go 1-on-1. It's why we've become the players we are, because we battled together and when you do that, you perform."

4. Outside of family, who is one person who pops to mind when you think about people who have helped you get this far?

"I definitely wouldn't be here without the guy I'm always on the ice with, Kevin Gomes [coach of the Ontario Junior Hockey League's Oakville Blades]. He's made the skater and player I am today. He always helped me with my skating. Early on, I wasn't the best skater. He worked closely with me over the summers."

5. Athletes have to be maintain a super-strict diet — so tell us, what did you have the last time you cheated?

"It was birthday last week. I was at Real Sports so I had the chicken wings, the teriyaki kind."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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