Bolland eyes world juniors

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Last night, the big 'C' on the red sweater stood for captain.

But London Knights star David Bolland hopes the big 'C' stands for Canada next month at the world junior championship in Vancouver.

The 19-year-old Toronto native scored once and added two nifty assists to lead Team OHL to a 5-2 victory over the Russian Selects in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge before 4,911 last night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

Bolland, who's currently co-leading the OHL in points with Knights teammate Rob Schremp, formed some serious chemistry with Brampton Battalion forward Wojtek Wolski, who picked up a hat trick. Now, each will try to knock the other off his game when their teams meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.

"Me, Wojtek and (Kitchener Rangers forward) Evan McGrath had it going pretty good," Bolland said. "We played together and against each other when we were young (in Toronto), so we were familiar with each other. It worked out well."

Bolland didn't find out he was going to be team captain until about an hour before the game. Bad weather prevented Team OHL head coach Craig Hartsburg, a Canadian world junior assistant this year, and five players from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Sudbury Wolves from arriving at the rink until 15 minutes before faceoff.

"The trainer (Kitchener Rangers trainer Dan Lebold) came up to me while I was doing my stretches and said, 'You're captain,' " Bolland said. "It was a shock. But it was a real honour. That's the way I looked at it."

With two goals last year, Bolland has scored in each of the three games he has played against the Russians in the Challenge. He can make it four-for-four Monday night in Peterborough.

That would show Team Canada brass such as head scout Blair Mackasey and Chicago Blackhawks director of player personnel Rick Dudley, both of whom were in the building last night, an even more important 'C' -- consistency.

Bolland, who is in the midst of playing five games in six days, isn't exactly recharging his batteries while he's on the ice. He worked the power play, killed penalties and had one shift in the second period that was exceedingly long, almost three minutes, but he still skated hard the entire time. He was also mugged by Russian captain Sergey Ogorodnikov and drew a penalty late in the game that led to Wolski's third goal.

"It was kind of strange because we were missing a bunch of players during warmup," he said. "We were kind of like, 'What's going on here?' But it ended up working out pretty well."

While Bolland was one of the older players on the OHL squad, Kingston Frontenacs forward Cory Emmerton, a 17-year-old St. Thomas native who played his minor hockey with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, was the youngest on his team's roster.

Emmerton, a fifth-round Fronts pick in 2004, has played well enough in the last two seasons to be considered a front-line prospect for next summer's NHL draft. He was a big part of Canada's gold medal-winning Under-18 team in Piestany, Slovakia, in August.

Strathroy native Patrick McNeill, who faced the Knights Wednesday with the Saginaw Spirit, played on the Canadian blue-line last night and drew an assist.

So far this year, Bolland has impressed both the Canadian world junior bigwigs and the Blackhawks brass.

"He has improved his skating quite a bit this season. He's a tremendously skilled player who isn't cheated on any shift," Dudley said.

"Everyone knows about his talent. It's evident in the number of points he's putting up this year."


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