Syvret has worlds in sight

JIM CRESSMAN, London Free Press; and LFP news services

, Last Updated: 6:48 AM ET

London Knights defenceman Danny Syvret will likely be named to the 2005 Canadian junior hockey team today. A source told The Free Press last night that head coach Brent Sutter will take eight defencemen to the world junior championship in Grand Forks, N.D.

Initial plans were for seven but a shoulder injury to Brent Seabrook of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has necessitated the extra blue-liner.

Sutter will name Seabrook, then give him time to heal.

Seabrook, who played on the 2004 silver-medal winning team, hadn't played for two days after being checked into the boards on Monday by Jeff Carter of London, who will be returning to the world juniors.

Sutter said after last night's 6-3 exhibition win over the University of Manitoba that he might name 24 or 25 players to the team, although he can put only 22 on the ice at the tournament, that opens Dec. 25.

Syvret was already on Sutter's radar screen before the 32 hopefuls reported to camp in Winnipeg on Sunday.

"I think I did all right," Syvret said of last night's game, in which he picked up an assist. "I was moving the puck well. I played two years of junior B, so I was used to the no-red-line rule. Some of the other guys might not have been."

The IIHF doesn't use the centre line for two-line passes.

Knights forward Corey Perry, cut last year, also increased his chances with his play in Tuesday's intrasquad game, then again last night with two goals and an assist.

On Tuesday, Perry scored a highlight-reel goal on a line with Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.

"I hadn't done what I wanted to do so far. Tonight was the night," Perry said after last night's performance.

Sutter certainly noticed, calling it Perry's best night of the week. "No question about that," the coach said. "He battled harder, competed harder for the puck. His awareness was better."

The team will resemble the high-octane squad of 2004 with as many as half the players back to try and win that elusive gold medal.

The team that took silver in Helsinki was a dominant squad until there were 20 minutes left to play. Then it flew apart as the Americans scored three goals en route to a 4-3 gold-medal victory.

The Canadian team's talent, speed, smarts and physical strength should carry over. The missing elements at the moment are some chemistry and also the certainty of the international calibre of the goalies. The two who are chosen will make their world junior debut.

Chemistry can be developed over the next week.

Canada has the ability to again have superior puck possession, spend most of the time in the offensive zone and outshoot the opposition by a wide margin.

Canadian strengths have traditionally been forechecking and penalty killing and this one should excel at that on the smaller North American ice as it can take away time and space from the opposition.

"We want to have a pack-of-wolves mentality," Sutter said.

The competition within the team for the starting goalie's job should mean strength between the pipes. It appeared Jeff Glass of the Kootenay Ice and Rejean Beauchemin of the Prince Albert Raiders are the front-runners, but neither Devan Dubnyk of the Kamloops Blazers nor Kevin Nastiuk of the Medicine Hat Tigers has played out of contention.

Sutter will release as many as 10 players today. He said he wasn't going to follow the procedure of previous years, when players were cut at dawn and transported out quickly to spare their feelings and keep the camp atmosphere positive.

Sutter said the players should be mature enough to handle it and those who don't make the cut should be able to mix with those who do. "If your team is that mentally weak, you're not going to win at the end of the day anyway," he said. "I want to treat these guys like pros."

Bergeron, Crosby, Jeff Carter of London, Jeremy Colliton, Nigel Dawes, Michael Richards and Ryan Getzlaf and defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber were scratches last night, indicating they had impressed Sutter enough to secure a spot. With the exception of Weber, they are all second-year Canadian juniors.


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