Syvret ready for more work

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- All those minutes patrolling the London Knights blue-line are paying off for Danny Syvret -- and the Canadian junior hockey team. The loss of defenceman Cam Barker with mononucleosis, and a nagging shoulder injury to Brent Seabrook, has meant increased ice time for Syvret.

He's ready, willing and able.

"It was tough early on to go from playing close to 40 minutes in London to maybe 13 or 14 here," Syvret said yesterday as Canada prepared for an as yet unknown opponent in tomorrow's semifinals at the world junior championship.

Canada meets the winner of today's Czech Republic-Finland quarter-final.

Syvret said the reduced ice time here has been a big change. He said he's had to be inventive on the bench, making sure his legs don't seize up between shifts.

"It's tough to adapt but the team selects players that have character and can deal with that and fortunately for myself I've been able to," he said.

Barker, with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers and a Chicago Blackhawks first-round draft pick, went home to Winnipeg yesterday after sitting out Thursday's 8-1 win over Finland.

Forward Jeremy Colliton of the Prince Albert Raiders is likely finished with a knee injury, which drops Canada's roster to 20 players from 22.

Canada began the tournament with seven defencemen, but Seabrook, with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and another Blackhawks first-rounder, has seen limited ice time. He's been bothered by the shoulder since training camp began.

Syvret is the only Canadian, other than 17-year-old Sidney Crosby, who hasn't been drafted. Of course Crosby will go first overall this year, if the NHL conducts its draft in June.

The comment was made yesterday that Syvret has been invisible here, which he said he takes as a compliment.

"It's better that way. As a defenceman, you don't want to be noticed because if you are noticed, it's either you're making a turnover or getting beat somewhere. Hopefully I can stay under the radar."

Syvret has been solid in his end, the reason he was picked for this team, but knows that with the increased ice time, comes more responsibility.

"I think I'll be playing more so it makes it easier to stay in the game. Hopefully I can try to take advantage of it . . . and maybe get noticed out there."

He said six defencemen is no problem, but if Seabrook can't go, "that would be a bit of a bigger change, going from losing one to losing two and only having five D back there."

Head coach Brent Sutter kept Seabrook out of yesterday's skate, saying later: "We think he'll be fine.

"He aggravated it a little bit (Thursday) night. He probably could have practised today, but what's the point? Leave him be and let him get as close to being healthy for the game (tomorrow)."

Sutter said losing Barker "is unfortunate both ways. It's a tough break for him and obviously it's unfortunate for our hockey club, but you know, injuries are part of it and you don't get worked up about it. You just move forward.

"We're a deep enough team that we'll make do with what we have."

Sutter said the fact Canada is down to 20 players -- and possibly 19, depending on Seabrook -- is not a concern.

"Now it's just like running your own hockey club," said Sutter, coach and GM of the Red Deer Rebels. Major junior teams dress 18 skaters and two goalies for games.

"You're down to 12 forwards and six D and two goalies . . . so really it's not that big of a deal. I've always wondered why there's a 22-man roster in the first place. You're still basically only going to use the 20 guys anyway."

Sutter said there's no fear other players have contracted mono from Barker.

"Once he got sick, we had him in his own room. It's tough on Cam (sending him home), but as I was telling him this morning, he's still part of the team, but we need to distance him from the others players just because of the illness he has."

When asked if the team doctor has the players taking extra vitamins, Sutter responded: "Their vitamin is the semifinals."

This team is proving versatile. Forward Ryan Getzlaf of the Calgary Hitmen was moved to the blue-line during the third period against Finland when Seabrook left and Dion Phaneuf of the Rebels took a misconduct.

"He actually played pretty well for being a forward," Syvret said. "He's a pretty talented player up front, so I think we would want to keep him up there. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and keep six D in the lineup.

"But any player can play any role, as we knew last game. I never really knew he was a defenceman, but at this calibre anyone can play any position, I think."

TODAY'S GAMES

Quarter-finals

D Czech Republic vs. Finland, 4:30 p.m. EST (TSN)

D United States vs. Sweden, 8:30 p.m. EST (TSN)


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