Knights trio invited to junior camp

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Three London Knights who are shining on the national scene now get a shot to star on a world stage.

The Free Press has learned that forwards Corey Perry and David Bolland and defenceman Danny Syvret will be among the 32 players Hockey Canada invites to its national junior team selection camp.

The announcement is to be made today, with the camp set to open next Sunday night in Winnipeg. The 22-man roster will be named Dec. 16 in preparation for the world junior championship Dec. 25-Jan. 4 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Perry, the OHL scoring leader with 61 points in 28 games, and Syvret attended the summer camp, while Perry was also the last forward cut from last year's selection camp. Both are 19.

Bolland played in the recent Canada-Russia Challenge Series and, at 18, could be a key member of next year's team if he isn't successful this time around.

Sources indicated that 21 of the 32 players will come from the Western Hockey League.

The OHL will have seven players at camp, including forwards Jeff Carter, a London native, from the Soo Greyhounds; Michael Richards, Kitchener Rangers, and Anthony Stewart, Kingston Frontenacs, who all were on last year's silver-medal team, and Mississauga defenceman and ex-Knight Kyle Quincey.

There will be four Quebec league players, including Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, who is still eligible for junior.

Red Deer Rebels coach Brent Sutter is Team Canada head coach. The WHL will dominate camp with 17 skaters and all four goaltenders, which guarantees it will be the first year since Trevor Kidd in 1992 that a WHL goalie is the starter.

It was thought that Sarnia Sting goalie Ryan Munce might earn an invitation but that won't happen.

Perry, Bolland and Syvret will play Wednesday in Kitchener when the Knights (27-0-1) look to equal the Canadian Hockey League's record 29-game undefeated streak, then again Friday when Guelph is at the John Labatt Centre. That's when the Knights could break the record.

However, the three won't play Sunday against Kitchener at the JLC.

"This is something to be proud of from an organization standpoint," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said yesterday. "From the top to the bottom, we can all share in this."

Head coach Dale Hunter said that despite missing three key players for as many as six games (if any of them make Team Canada), he endorses the national junior program.

"This is good for the kids. It's a great experience and it will only make you a better player. Streak or not, it's important you represent your country."

Ten defencemen are going to camp, with Syvret and Quincey the only non-WHLers.

Syvret's chances of making the team improved when the Minnesota Wild announced the team won't release defenceman Brent Burns, who played last year. Burns is a converted forward.

"I haven't really seen him play as a defenceman," said Syvret, "and I still think he would have had to earn a spot. But my chances increased a little."

He said "the Western league guys are all big, strong bodies who can skate and move the puck well, and it'll be a challenge to make it. Hopefully, I can go to camp and open some eyes.

"I know I still have to earn my way but still (without Burns), that's one less body I have to beat."

Syvret has a fan in national junior assistant coach Peter DeBoer, who is Kitchener's coach and GM. DeBoer said previously he was lobbying for Syvret and Quincey, but last night wouldn't comment except to say: "I was pushing for a team entry. If ever there was a year for a team entry, it would be London this year."

Bolland has one of the OHL's best shots. "This feels great," he said. "It's a big thing for me right now to get an invitation to this. I think if I really work hard, I'll have a shot at it. If not, then definitely next year."

For Perry, it came as a relief to know he is invited and that he has one more crack at playing for his country following last year's disappointment.

"Now I can focus on Wednesday and Friday," he said. "There's nothing you can do about last year. I just have to go to camp and prove I deserve a spot on this team."


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