Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hockey Canada Unveils U18 Team

A couple of days after USA Hockey - the defending champs - released their U18 roster, their neighbours to the north have done the same. You can find the complete roster here.

All but two players are draft eligible in 2010 with Halifax Moosehead forward Gabriel Desjardins representing next year's draft and Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips not available until 2012, although he just missed being available for 2011.

There are some names not on the list that surprised me, but of course there are good reasons for the omissions. Edmonton Oil King defenceman Mark Pysyk (pictured courtesy Andy Devlin) who played on this team last year wasn't named, but TPS has been told he hasn't fully recovered from a foot injury suffered late in the the season. Jaden Schwartz didn't make the grade because his Tri City Storm club snuck into the USHL playoffs. Hockey Canada waited until the last minute to name the team in case the Storm missed the post season. One name I'm a little shocked that isn't on the list is 2011 draft eligible forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels. Some think he could be a top 3 pick in his draft year. Nugent-Hopkins was almost a point per game guy in Red Deer this year but was up against 102 point centre Jordan Weal of Regina and Ryan Spooner of Peterborough who notched 54 points in 47 games this year.

Kootenay forward Max Reinhart made the grade on the basis of his great all around game. Reinhart is a great penalty killer, skates well and is really smart. He also scored 21 goals this year. Only 2 players didn't score 20 this year, Spooner being one and Brett Connolly the other, and both missed a good portion of the season. In Connolly's case he played only 16 games, scoring 10 goals and adding 9 assists. Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray watched him in his return to Prince George's line up and was more then impressed by his play and more then satisfied that Connolly's hip problems are behind him.

Goal scoring shouldn't be a problem for this team. Total up the numbers and you'll find 350 goals. Only 5 teams in the CHL scored more then 300 this year, with Windsor leading the way at 331.

Head Coach Guy Carbonneau's roster breaks down this way. 13 from the OHL, 2 from the QMJHL and 7 from the WHL - including both goalies Calvin Pickard of Seattle and Kent Simpson of Everett.

Team Canada will gather in Toronto starting tomorrow and leave for Belarus on Tuesday where they'll have 5 days of practice and exhibition games before starting the tournament against Switzerland April 13th.

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