Downie dreaming of invite

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

PETERBOROUGH -- Blair Mackasey is loathe to say Steve Downie's name will be etched in stone for Canada's world junior selection camp but that's about all he won't say.

Downie, for whom adversity seems to be a constant companion, is the type of player Canada coach Brent Sutter will have in mind Dec. 5 when the camp roster is revealed.

"He brings some of things we need, especially playing at home on a smaller ice surface in front of your home-town crowd with the emotion and everything," Mackasey, Canada's director of player personnel, said last night as he watched the OHL beat Russia 5-1 in the Canada-Russia Challenge. "He is candidate (for the camp). There is intensity and energy, but he also has a lot of talent."

Downie was thrust into the spotlight earlier this season when he fought then-teammate Akim Aliu during a Windsor Spitfires practice. That led to a league investigation which uncovered a hazing incident in Windsor, and Downie later left the club. But he wants to do nothing less than look ahead, which he has been doing for much of his young life.

When he was a boy, Downie was a passenger in his father John's Ford Explorer when the vehicle went out of control on the way to morning hockey. John Downie died in the crash but Steve was not hurt.

"Everything is a learning experience and a step," Steve Downie said. "(The accident)is still in my memory and I miss him tremendously, but you have to put it behind you."

A few years later, Downie started to go deaf in his right ear. He wears a hearing aid off the ice, but takes it out for games.

Downie, a native of Queensville, Ont., stood out for his competitive style at Canada's summer development camp. Since being traded to the Peterborough Petes from Windsor, he has three goals and 14 assists in eight games. A first-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer, the 18-year-old Downie knows what it will take for him to earn a spot on Canada's final 22-player roster for the world junior in B.C.

"I play with a ton of heart," said the 5-foot-10, 191-pound Downie, who had an assist last night. "I'm a small guy, and if I want to make it somewhere, I have to make an impression somehow. It would be (the fulfillment of a)childhood dream to play for Canada."

Liam Reddox, with two, Wojtek Wolski, David Bolland and Scott Lehman scored for the OHL.


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