Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) announced on Monday the 39 junior-aged hockey players (born in 1991 or later) who have been invited to take part in the National Junior Team selection camp, taking place Dec. 12-15 at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
Chilliwack Bruin Ryan Howse is one of 17 Western Hockey Leaguers who will try to crack Canada’s roster for the prestigious year-end tournament. Howse currently sits 10th in league scoring with 34 points in 24 games. He leads the Bruins and is fourth in WHL goal scoring with 19 tallies.
He found out after receiving a phone call from Canadian assistant coach Ryan Huska.
“Obviously it was a pretty nice accomplishment, a pretty nice call to wake up to in the morning obviously.” he said. “It’s a little bit relieving and some good news. I knew the list was coming out today so this is just one step and I guess the final step closer to making that team.”
If successful, Howse would be the first Chilliwack player to ever don the red and white Canadian jersey at the World Junior Tournament, which takes place Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Buffalo, New York.
The high-profile selection camp invitees include current WHL scoring leader Linden Vey (Medicine Hat Tigers) and reigning WHL defenceman of the year Tyson Barrie (Kelowna Rockets).
Seattle Thunderbirds stopped Calvin Pickard is the lone WHL goaltender getting an invite, and he will be a favourite to secure the starting role for Canada. Potential D-men lining up in front of him include Jared Cowen (Spokane), Brayden McNabb (Kootenay), Ryan Murray (Everett) and Mark Pysyk (Edmonton.
Joining Howse in the forward contingent are Carter Ashton (Regina), Brett Connolly (Prince George), Cody Eakin (Swift Current), Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver), Curtis Hamilton (Saskatoon), Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer) and the Portland duo of Ryan Johansen and Brad Ross.
“It’s just going to take hard work, and that’s what it comes down to in the end,” Howse said of taking the final step onto the Canadian roster. “It doesn’t matter how skilled you are. They’re not going to take guys who are pure skill and don’t work hard. Like I’ve been taught in the past, with hard work you can accomplish things and skill can only get you so far.”
Over the past 10 years, WHL players have made up over 40 per cent of Canada’s roster, and close to 60 per cent the team’s defensive selections.
Canada plays its first game Dec. 26 versus Russia.
Canada has medalled the last 12 years, including gold medal performances in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, silver medals in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2010 and bronze medals in 2000 and 2001.
For more information visit www.hockeycanada.ca.