There is a carrot dangling in front of Guelph Storm sniper Matt Poitras and it's called the World Juniors.
Poitras, the Storm's leading scorer from last season and a favourite to be among the scoring leaders this season, and teammate Michael Buchinger were part of meetings over the summer with Hockey Canada for players that are on the radar for Canada's world junior team.
Tallying 95 points as an 18 year old will do that.
"It's awesome, obviously. It's been a dream since I was a little kid to play in the World Juniors," the Boston Bruins draft pick said Tuesday at the Sleeman Centre.
"I've just go to keep working with that goal in mind in the back of my head. It's definitely something I want to do."
The Storm hit the ice Tuesday for the first time with a pair of scrimmages. Two more were planned for Wednesday before the invite list of 49 players (including an injured Cam Allen) is trimmed down to a more workable number.
The end of last season for the Storm didn't end Poitras' season. He joined the Bruins' American Hockey League affiliate the Providence Bruins for a month as they advanced through the playoffs. Then there was the Bruins development camp in July, plus the Hockey Canada meetings.
While Poitras' didn't get to play for Providence, he got to practice and soak up the pro environment at a very important time, an experience he says was a valuable one.
"It was just nice to kind of get that first taste of pro hockey and see what that's like. Being in the dressing room with older guys every day, being on the ice with them and seeing what kind of compete it takes to get to that next level," the Brooklin native said.
"The playoff vibe was definitely there. It was a grind every day in practice playing against those older guys. They were competing in the playoffs so it brought the level and intensity of practice up that much higher."
Poitras' 79 assists last season were just two shy of the Jeff O'Neill's single season Storm's record of 81. And with last year's linemates Braeden Bowman and Max Namestnikov both returning, there is high expectation for a very productive season.
But Poitras says he doesn't set personal goals heading into a season, at least not statistical ones.
"I kind of try and stay away from statistic-based goals. Setting a goal for a certain amount of assists or points can get in your own head. (If you set them) and don't get that, it might make you think you're not playing well ... you don't want to get discouraged and start cheating for offence."
The Storm's six-game pre-season starts Friday with a game in Mississauga. Sunday they play a 'home' game against Mississauga in Ayr.