The trio of Winnipeggers survived the final cut and now it's time to get down to business. Canada opens the round-robin portion of the World Junior Hockey Championship at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., tomorrow (3:30 p.m., TSN) against Slovakia.
"It's going to be great to finally get the tournament started," said goalie Rejean Beauchemin, who will likely back up Jeff Glass in the opener.
Defenceman Cam Barker secured his spot on the 22-man roster with two strong pre-tournament games and breathed a sigh of relief when Kyle Quincey was released after Wednesday's 5-0 win over Switzerland.
"It's a great feeling, a feeling of accomplishment that your hard work has paid off," said Barker, 18, who had a goal and two assists in the two pre-tournament games. "You think about (pulling on the Canada jersey for the first game), but I don't think it will really hit you until you get there. It's been a long two weeks here and we're excited to get going."
Returning forward Nigel Dawes, who came home from Finland with a silver medal last year, would like to add another colour to his collection and he's not talking about bronze.
"That's our purpose," said Dawes, who had six goals and 11 points to tie linemate Anthony Stewart for the team lead in last year's tournament. "We're going to take it game-by-game and hopefully we'll come back here with a gold medal. (The tournament) is something I've been thinking about since the summer and it's coming up really fast here. We're ready to roll."
NUMBERS GAME: Not only will Sidney Crosby be playing a more prominent role in his second world juniors, he'll be wearing a new number.
Crosby, who wears No. 87 (his year of birth) for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, is trading in No. 28, which he wore in last year's tournament for No. 9.
"They give you sheets to fill out when you first enter the program and you write down numbers you'd like to have," said Crosby, referring to Canada's Program of Excellence. "I just got lucky this year. I wore No. 9 during the Under-18 tournament. It's one of those things you're just comfortable with. To some people it doesn't matter, but for some guys there is a comfort zone there."
The significance of the number isn't lost on Crosby either. Among those to wear the number for Canada in tournament's past include Wayne Gretzky, Jason Spezza, Brad Richards, Mike Ricci, Doug Gilmour, Russ Courtnall, Jason Allison, Shayne Corson, Foxwarren's Pat Falloon and Winnipeg's James Patrick.
"It's a well-known number, but I don't even know if it's that," said Crosby, recognizing Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard and Paul Kariya. "I played with it in midget and it's one of those numbers that you like, so I'm happy to have it."
In other number swapping, returning centre Jeff Carter has switched from No. 9 to No. 7.
Carter was unable to grab No. 7 last year because it was being saved for Steinbach product Ian White, who was a late cut due to injury.