Quick on roster draw

Dana Tyrell (left) gets knocked off his skates by Luke Schenn during national junior team scrimmage...

Dana Tyrell (left) gets knocked off his skates by Luke Schenn during national junior team scrimmage on Wednesday. SUN MEDIA/Jack Cusano

CAM MAXWELL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

CALGARY -- Like the team itself, the decision to name Canada's world junior squad came quickly.

Rather than waiting until today, as per the norm, to name the 22-man roster for the upcoming world junior championship in the Czech Republic, Hockey Canada announced the team yesterday after head coach Craig Hartsburg felt he had all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

"The picture was pretty clear that this was going to be the group and there was no sense putting 35 kids through another intense scrimmage," said Hartsburg, who will lead the team in its quest for four championships in a row starting on Boxing Day.

"The Super Series helped and the ADT games were good this year because the Russians brought a really good team, so it was clear that this was the group we wanted."

Seventeen of the players named to final roster were drafted in either the 2006 or 2007 NHL Entry Draft, including seven first-round selections and six second-round picks. Four players are eligible for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft while one player is eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Notables include 17-year-old phenom John Tavares of the OHL's Oshawa Generals, Kyle Turris of the NCAA Wisconsin Badgers and Brandon Sutter of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Sutter is the son of New Jersey Devils bench boss Brent Sutter.

Only two players from last year's team -- defenceman Karl Alzner of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen and Brad Marchand from the Val-d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL -- are on this year's edition, which is young and fast.

For Tavares, who hails from Oakville, Ont., getting the news early yesterday morning was the best Christmas present, for him and his family.

"My mother was really excited and very happy and I think maybe she had more of a stressful night than I did," said Tavares, who leads the OHL in scoring with 24 goals and 44 helpers in 30 games and is eligible for the 2009 NHL entry draft.

"I got about four or five hours sleep, but she called me late and told me to let her know right away."

Alzner, a stalwart on the blueline for Team Canada and the Hitmen, was on cloud nine yesterday, even though he won a gold medal for the Maple Leaf last year.

"It never gets old," said the Burnaby, B.C., product.

"Me and Sutter were in the room (yesterday) planning on having a nap and I just started thinking about all the fun things we did last year, so I just got so excited about it all and the chance to make even more memories."

This year's team, made up of eight players from the WHL, 10 from the OHL, three from the QMJHL and one college player, will be led by goaltenders Jonathan Bernier of the Lewiston Maineiacs and London Knights standout Steve Mason.

Hartsburg said the team is built on quickness and youth.

"I think we've got good speed and good balanced attack up front," said Hartsburg, last year's gold medal-winning coach.

Canada opens the tournament in Pardubice, Czech Republic, against the host Czech Republic.


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