Junior pick has 'big heart'

KEN WIEBE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Oakbank product Quinton Howden is proud to see fellow Manitoban and Moose Jaw Warriors teammate Travis Hamonic nail down a spot on Canada's world junior hockey team after getting cut last December.

"I'm so happy for him. He completely deserves it and nobody has a bigger heart than him," said Howden. "I know he'll do great."

Howden and Winnipeggers Calvin Pickard and Dylan McIlrath were among the 13 Western Hockey Leaguers chosen to participate in the annual CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game next month in Windsor, Ont.

There's a good chance both Howden and Pickard will be in the mix for roster spots with Team Canada's 2011 world junior team.

Pickard, a goalie with the Seattle Thunderbirds, said he wasn't that down about not being invited to the final evaluation camp this time around.

"I was thinking more about next year and the year after," said Pickard. "I didn't think I was out of the picture, but I had a really outside chance. I wasn't that disappointed at all. I still have two more years for that."

Aside from Hamonic, the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon and Regina will give fans across the nation a chance to get a closer look at a pair of Brandon Wheat Kings forwards, Brayden Schenn and Toni Rajala.

Many are familiar with Schenn, a first round pick (fifth overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft but Rajala, a right-winger who was a fourth round pick (101st overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in 2009, is having a solid season as well.

Rajala, who will play for Finland, has 14 goals and 33 points in 31 games after missing time at the start of the campaign with a knee injury.

"He's very talented and he's tremendous with the puck," said Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon. "He has excellent patience and poise. He played in the world junior last year and he's a real respected player in his home country."


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