Manitobans strut their stuff for Team Canada

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

Dustin Boyd never thought the ankle injury he suffered during a Team Canada practice last week was going to keep him out of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

But it was nice, nonetheless, to return to action Thursday night by producing two goals and an assist as Canada bounced Russia 8-1 in a pre-tournament game played in Kamloops.

GETTING TREATMENT

"I've been getting treatment on it every day," Boyd said yesterday after practice. "I knew I was going to get a game in (before the tournament), I thought I might play on Tuesday but the coaching staff wanted me to rest. It was for the best."

Boyd, one of three Winnipeggers on the 2006 edition of the squad that is looking to defend its gold medal, is eager to hit the ice for the tournament opener on Monday against Finland.

"Definitely, I can't wait," said Boyd, who was among the final cuts last year but earned his spot on the team with a strong start to the campaign with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. "This was my goal going into the season and I'll try to play whatever role they give me to a T."

Boyd, a Calgary Flames draft pick in 2004 (third round, 98th overall), is a strong two-way player but he could be among the top offensive weapons Canada has at its disposal.

Boyd, who has 27 goals and 47 points in 32 games with the Warriors this season, is expected to start the tournament on a unit with New York Islanders prospect Blake Comeau and Guillaume Latendresse, who nearly cracked the Montreal Canadiens roster out of training camp.

Fellow Winnipegger Jonathan Toews had a strong showing in both games, scoring on Tuesday against the Czech Republic in a 2-1 win and following that performance up with a pair of goals on Thursday against Russia.

Toews, the youngest player on the team, sure hasn't looked like a 17-year-old so far.

"It's just a plus to score a few goals," said Toews, who is expected to push American sniper Phil Kessel to be the top pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft. "We took these last two games pretty seriously and most of all, we're getting better as a team."

Toews, a freshman with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, loves the approach head coach Brent Sutter has taken with the team.

"We're chomping at the bit, more than ready to get this tournament started," said Toews. "It's been great (playing for Sutter). He makes sure we're together as a team and that we're not looking too far ahead. Everyone is buying into the system."

The final member of the Winnipeg contingent is Cam Barker, a member of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers.

Barker, the lone returnee on the squad and third overall selection of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004, is expected to be a key contributor on the blue-line and will probably anchor the power play.


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