The six players from the WHL to make Canada's World Junior Team pose for a picture in Calgary on Wednesday (Photo: WHL.ca)
The roster is set, now it's time to get down to work. Canada unveiled it's 22 man roster for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships yesterday, and it includes six WHL players.
Moose Jaw Warriors forward Quinton Howden is one of four returning players who made this year's team and, even though there's a lot of fresh faces, he says they've already started to come together. "Over the camp you start to get close with guys you've never played with or met before. Everyone's excited, you can see the way the guys are coming together. It's an exciting time and I can't wait to get practices started."
Among the six WHLers' who made the team is Everett's Ryan Murray, who's from White City and played Midget AAA hockey in the Friendly City.
Murray had 12 goals and 38 points in 41 games with the Moose Jaw Midget Warriors in 2008-09 and says it's an honor to pull on the Canada jersey. "The past couple of days we've all been fighting for spots and it's been pretty nerve-wracking. It's quite a relief to be on the team finally. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we're going to start practicing and getting ready for the tournament and getting back to work, but today we can enjoy it and celebrate a little bit," added Murray.
Murray has played with Canada before at Under 18 tournaments. He was cut from last year's World Junior team, this time around he's hoping to fill a specific role on Canada's defence. "I want to be a shutdown guy. We have a lot of skilled players out here, I'd be real happy just going out there and playing defensively and making sure I don't get scored on and shutting down the other team's lines."
Other current WHL players who made the roster are Mark Stone (Brandon), Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver), and Mark Pysyk (Edmonton). Brett Connolly is a former Prince George Cougar who was loaned to Canada by the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jaden Schwartz is making his second trip to the Worlds, in what should be a very emotional tournament for the Wilcox native after losing his sister, Mandi, to leukemia earlier this year.
Canada gets back to work today with their first practice as a team, they'll get themselves ready for their first exhibition game which is Monday against Finland. On the 22nd they'll play Switzerland, they close out their pre-competition schedule on the 23rd against Sweden.
Canada's opens the World Junior Hockey Championships on Boxing Day against Finland. Catch all the action on the Eagle 94.1 FM as we'll broadcast all of Canada's games in their journey back to capturing the gold medal.
Written with files from James Gallo - DiscoverMooseJaw.com