A few good 'men

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Calgary Hitmen forward Andrew Ladd nervously paced in his Winnipeg hotel room yesterday morning, praying the phone wouldn't ring. Fortunately for him and teammate Ryan Getzlaf, it didn't and Ladd knew he'd made Canada's world junior team -- a sweet belated birthday present or an early Christmas gift.

"It's more of a relief than anything. It was a pretty rough morning. Now it's over and I'm sure the excitement will grow over the next few days," said Ladd, who turned 19 Sunday and has never represented Canada.

Naturally, the first thing Ladd did was give his parents, Dave and Kim, a call back home in Maple Ridge, B.C.

"I talked to my parents today and that was pretty neat, too. They were pretty excited. I'm sure they were more nervous (Wednesday) night than me," said the 6-ft. 2-in., 202-lb. Carolina Hurricanes prospect.

Ladd was never a lock to make the squad that's trying to win Canada's first world junior championship since 1997.

He injured his shoulder at the team's development camp in Calgary this summer, courtesy of a hit from Getzlaf, but a stellar performance against the Russians in the ADT Canada-Russia challenge helped him out.

Plus the Hitmen play the Red Deer Rebels so often, Canadian junior head coach Brent Sutter, who also guides the Rebels, knew what Ladd could bring to the table.

"He's pretty familiar with the things I can do and I'm sure that played into it, too," said Ladd, who has 24 points in 33 games with the Hitmen this season. "It's how guys fit into the team and what roles they could play. Fortunately for me, things worked out my way."

Still, while going through the paces at the selection camp in Winnipeg this week, Ladd had no idea of his status with the team.

"With the calibre of guys here, it was pretty intense and you weren't really sure what they were looking for, so I wasn't really too sure," he said.

Canada's opening game at the world championship in Grand Forks, N.D., and Thief River Falls, Minn., is

Dec. 25 against Slovakia.

Getzlaf, 19, was on last year's club that lost to the U.S. in the final.

This year, the 6-ft. 3-in. sniper is one of 11 players who are captains of their respective junior teams and he'll settle for nothing but a championship and the gold medal that comes with it.

"We're confident in the whole program and what we have to do," said Getzlaf, the Hitmen's leading scorer with 35 points in 33 games.

"The guys coming back and the new guys, everybody's here for one reason and we're going to be confident going in."

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect is one of 12 returnees from last year's club, including phenom Sidney Crosby of the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic and Calgary Flames blue-chipper Dion Phaneuf of the Red Deer Rebels.

Sutter's stamp is all over the club with 14 of the 23 players coming from the WHL. Six players are OHLers; three from the QMJHL.


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