Local hockey players invited to Team Canada World Junior selection camp
Saint John Sea Dogs forward Jonathan Huberdeau was invited to the camp.
Published Monday, December 3, 2012 6:42PM AST
Last Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 6:43PM AST
Three Maritime hockey players received the prestigious invitation to the Team Canada World Junior selection camp Monday.
Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads, and Jonathan Huberdeau from the Saint John Sea Dogs, were three of the 37 of Canada’s top junior-aged players invited to take part in the camp.
Before the official announcement was made, MacKinnon received a call from one of the team’s coaches for a chat.
“It was short,” says MacKinnon. “He asked me if I’d like to come to camp and obviously I said yes.”
MacKinnon is burning up the league with 25 goals. Together, MacKinnon and Drouin have a combined 89 points. Drouin believes he and MacKinnon could make a big contribution to Team Canada.
“Oh, I think it will make it easier,” says Drouin. “We have great chemistry; we already have great chemistry in Halifax. I think we could bring it up together for Team Canada.”
“We’re going to adopt to situations and try for the team and earn a spot,” says MacKinnon.
However, the lockout in the National Hockey League this year could make it more difficult to make the final cut. A number of junior-aged players, who would be playing in the NHL if it weren’t for the lockout, may be available to play.
John Moore, a play-by-playbroadcaster for the Halifax Mooseheads, says it is rare for one 17-year-old to make the team and two is almost unheard of, except perhaps in the case of MacKinnon and Drouin.
“They not only deserve to be selected to the camp, they deserve to make the team,” says Moore.
Saint John Sea Dogs forward Jonathan Huberdeau was also invited to the camp. He played alongside MacKinnon and Drouin earlier this fall in a game against the Russian Juniors and also played on last year’s World Junior team.
“I don’t think there is a big game that this organization has played in which he doesn’t have a big input,” says Wayne Long, president of the Saint John Sea Dogs. “Team Canada is going to count on him and he’s going to be one of the leaders.”
The Mooseheads could find themselves without their whole first line, because in addition to losing MacKinnon and Drouin, Martin Frk is headed to the Czech Republic to play for the country in the World Juniors.
“The second line could be a first line in most teams around the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League,” says Moore.
Cam Russell, general manager of the Halifax Mooseheads, says it is an opportunity for others on the team.
“There’s a lot of times players step up and surprise a lot of people,” says Russell. “We have a lot of faith in the kids we have.”
The World Juniors begin on Boxing Day in Ufa, Russia.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant