Manitobans wait out final World Junior team cuts

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:37 AM ET

In all likelihood, it was a long night for the three Manitobans hoping to nail down a spot on Canadas 22-man roster for the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.

With Tuesday nights game against the Canadian university national team in the books, goalie Calvin Pickard and forwards Cody Eakin and Quinton Howden retired to their rooms and waited to find out if they had done enough to go on or were headed back to their junior teams.

The team will be announced on Wednesday morning.

Pickard, a second round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was one of four goalies to stick around until the end. He gave up four goals on 16 shots Tuesday while playing against the junior team for the university side.

Pickard had a strong summer camp and posted a 13-9-6 record with a .926 save percentage in 28 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League this season.

Eakin, who was one of the final cuts last December, was hoping to avoid a similar fate and is off to a strong start this season, posting 18 goals and 39 points in 30 games with the Swift Current Broncos.

The Washington Capitals prospect (third round pick in 2009) is considered a strong bet to make the team this time around. He scored one of Canadas goals in a 6-2 win Tuesday.

Howden, a first round choice (25th overall) is considered a wild card and might also find himself in the mix when all is said and done because of his versatility.

Although his offensive totals (22 goals, 40 points in 29 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors) are impressive, Howden, who picked up an assist Tuesday, is considered a solid two-way player, which should bode well in the final determination.

Another player with Manitoba connections, Brandon Wheat Kings centre Brayden Schenn is considered a lock to make the team for the second consecutive season after spending the majority of the campaign with the Los Angeles Kings.

After Tuesdays cuts, there were 31 players left vying for the 22 spots.

Canada opens the tournament on Dec. 26 against Russia.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WiebeSunSports


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