Canada stands a good chance of having much more Ontario flavour at the 2006 world junior championship next winter in Vancouver.
Brampton Battalion forward Wojtek Wolski, Mississauga IceDogs goalie David Shantz and London Knights forward David Bolland, a native of Mimico, all could be wearing Canada's colours in B.C. in a year.
"The opportunity is there for Wolski," Hockey Canada head scout Blair Mackasey said. "He is definitely a guy who could help us. Shantz will be in the hunt, and people like Bolland will step up."
Wolski attended the summer development camp in August but knew it would be difficult to make much of an impression given the high number of returning players from 2004.
"It's going to be in the back of my mind until they name the team next year," Wolski said yesterday. "I'm going to hope and pray every night until then. But definitely my chances will be a lot better."
ONLY TWO CAN RETURN
Unlike this tournament, in which Canada had 12 returnees from its 2004 silver-medal-winning team, the spots for the roster in 2006 will be wide open. Only forward Sidney Crosby and defenceman Cam Barker can play for Canada in B.C., and if the NHL has resumed by the middle of next winter, it's possible both could be unavailable. Crosby should make the team that drafts him and Barker, the third pick overall by the Chicago Blackhawks last June, has the potential to crack the 'Hawks roster. So going to B.C. with an entirely new roster is not out of the question. Does that mean Canada will be weak? Mackasey doesn't think so.
"You have to remember that in Canada, we don't rebuild, we reload," Mackasey said. "Our 1987 age group is very talented and we have a solid core of kids born in 1986. I think we will be a better team than most people expect us to be."
Among the goaltending candidates are Shantz, Devan Dubnyk of the Kamloops Blazers and Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans. Defence prospects include Wes O'Neill of Notre Dame, Marc Staal of the Sudbury Wolves and Jeff Schultz of the Calgary Hitmen. Vancouver Giants forward Gilbert Brule, Dustin Boyd of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Kyle Chipchura of the Prince Albert Raiders are among those up front who should make the final camp.
Coaching candidates include both assistants from this winter's team, Peter DeBoer and Jim Hulton, if they decide to apply for the job. Whether he would want to do it again may be another matter, but bringing Brent Sutter back would not be a bad idea.