No one is lock for spot

Paul Friesen -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

Want to know how tough it's going to be to earn a spot on Canada's world junior team? Consider this: Winkler's Eric Fehr came into the selection camp as the leading goal scorer in junior hockey, but he's no lock to join Team Canada down in Grand Forks.

"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to be," Fehr said as the five-day camp opened yesterday. "I'm coming prepared to win a spot. I've done pretty well in the last couple of games. Hopefully that continues."

With 29 goals in 30 games, the Brandon Wheat Kings forward has been on a blistering pace at exactly the right time.

But he knows head coach Brent Sutter is looking for more than a knack to find the net.

"I know Mr. Sutter expects hard work from everybody," Fehr said. "He wants guys to fight for spots, and that's what we're going to do."

NO GUARANTEES: The 12 returning players were saying all the right things about not being guaranteed a spot -- and for good reason.

Sutter isn't promising anybody anything.

"I don't think those 12 guys should come here and think it's a lock," Sutter said. "That's a sign of complacency."

With the depth of talent here, it's not inconceivable that a returning player or two are replaced.

"I don't think any jobs are ever safe," Winnipeg's Nigel Dawes said. "Players are obviously front-runners ... but you've got to still prove that you deserve a spot. I don't want to lose my spot."

OPEN NET: One of the few wide-open positions on the team is in goal, where there's no returnee and no clear favourite.

"I'd rather have four guys that push each other and compete," Sutter said. "We want to take the guy who's the hottest."

Winnipeg's Rejean Beauchemin of the Prince Albert Raiders is up against three others from the Western League.

Two of the four goalies will make the team.

THE LAST WORD: Despite last year's heart-wrenching loss in the gold-medal game, it sounds like defenceman Dion Phaneuf wouldn't trade his time in Helsinki for anything.

"It's an experience of a lifetime," Phaneuf said. "You make friendships that last a lifetime. It's a tournament I'll never forget, and once I'm very excited about going to again this year."


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