Eight of the fifteen Ontario Hockey League Players invited to the Team Canada selection camp that will take part in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament have made the final cut. Seven more players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and seven from the Western Hockey League fill out the roster.
OHL players making the cut are defensemen Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts and Roland McKeown of the Kingston Frontenacs. Six forwards made the final roster. They include: Robby Frabbri of the Guelph Storm, Jared McCann of the Soo Greyhounds, Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals, Brendan Lemieux of the Barrie Colts, Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson of the Kingston Frontenacs.
Those not making the final roster are: Brent Moran of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Jacob Middleton of the Ottawa 67’s, Alex Peters of the Plymouth Whalers, Damian Bourne of the Mississauga Steelheads, Eric Cornel of the Peterborough Petes, Jaden Lindo of the Owen Sound Attack and Brendan Perlini of the Soo Greyhounds.
The Hlinka Tournament comes on the eve of the Junior training camps, which begin 2 weeks from the completion of the tournament. The tournament also marks these players first real test in their draft years. But for the players not making the squad, this shouldn’t be a negative on them. These are truly the best of the best competing from around the world.
Canada has dominated at this tournament winning five consecutive gold medals. The Canadian Hockey League is widely considered as the best supplier of talent to the National Hockey League and you really couldn’t go wrong naming any one of them to represent Canada. The problem is, there are just 22 roster spots and someone had to stay home.
This writer prefers the format of the World Hockey Challenge Under 17 where Canada is represented by five teams – Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West and Pacific. Now, I’m not suggesting that we take it to that level, but a tournament that involves the three leagues that fall under the CHL umbrella would not only allow more deserving players to take part, but would make the tournament that much more competitive for everyone involved.
In the O Radio's own Brandon Sudeyko had the chance to speak to some of the players during camp. You can listen to those interviews here