December 15, 2010
Wait and see time for junior hopefuls
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Riley Sheahan has scored exactly zero goals for Notre Dame this season.
That statistic amounted to nothing during the final audition at Canada’s national team selection camp.
Sheahan, a native of St. Catharines, did all he could to leave a last strong impression on head coach Dave Cameron, scoring a goal and assisting on two others as Canada beat a CIS all-star team 6-2 at the MasterCard Centre.
The final Canadian roster of 22 players (13 forwards, seven defencemen, two goalies) for the 2011 world junior championship will be announced on Wednesday morning. Cameron and his staff were prepared to work well into Tuesday night deciding who would be among the final nine cuts.
“It was nice to put the puck in the net for the first time in any hockey I have played this year,” Sheahan, who has six assists in 16 games for Notre Dame, said. “I think I played pretty well.”
Sheahan, a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings last June, connected well with Sean Couturier, who will be a top pick in the draft in 2011.
But Sheahan knows that nothing is written in stone, and that he could be among the final cuts. It’s that close this year.
“I’m still going to be seeing if the phone rings,” Sheahan said. “Hopefully it doesn’t.”
There is one group that can be rest assured they will not have to worry about being jarred awake by a ringing phone. The four players who were on Canada’s team a year ago — defencemen Ryan Ellis (the favourite to be captain), Calvin de Haan and Jared Cowen, and forward Brayden Schenn — were healthy scratches and they have made the team. Ditto, it would seem, for three other healthy scratches — forwards Zack Kassian, Louis Leblanc and Ryan Johansen. Centre Casey Cizikas also was scratched, but he has been dealing with a back issue.
Cameron knows Cizikas well — the latter is Cameron’s captain with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
“I know what he brings,” Cameron said. “He could have played, worst-case scenario.”
But Cameron otherwise was coy with a large group of reporters, unwilling to give too much away, and he was not interested in discussing players individually.
The lunch-bucket approach that Cameron has been espousing since the selection camp roster was announced two weeks ago remains in place.
“I think it is pretty fair to say we are going to have to score by committee,” Cameron said. “We will have four lines that we can roll, and we can go at teams and we are big and strong and physical. That’s the type of team it looks like we have right now.”
Roy likely on team
Goaltender Olivier Roy likely has won a job, with his backup probably one of Mark Visentin or JP Anderson. Calvin Pickard, playing for the CIS team, allowed four goals against the juniors and is bound to be cut.
Erik Gudbranson should make it on defence, and Dylan Olsen might have an inside track. Others in the mix include Simon Despres, Mark Pysyk, Tyson Barrie and underagers Ryan Murphy and Ryan Murray.
Cameron acknowledged there would be little to differentiate between the forwards. But if size and skill is what he wants, Marcus Foligno, Carter Ashton, Cody Eakin, Curtis Hamilton and Couturier all bring those qualities. Jaden Schwartz is slick. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might be a guy who is kept as the 13th forward, simply because his offensive skills are among the best in camp.
“We have less skill, but we are going to work very hard,” Ellis said. “A lot of people think scoring might be a problem this year for the team, but there has been a lot of goals in camp, and it was reassuring to see a lot of guys get in the action (on Tuesday night).”