Canada has invited 32 players to next week’s world junior hockey selection camp, including Canadian Hockey League top goal-scorer Tyler Steenbergen and fellow forward Jordan Kyrou, who leads the Ontario Hockey League in assists and points.
Eighteen forwards, 10 defencemen and four goaltenders will take the ice Dec. 12-15 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., before Hockey Canada trims the roster to 22 players ahead of this year’s tournament to be held in Buffalo from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.
Part of that process includes games against a team of all-stars from U Sports on Dec. 13 and 14 and then an exhibition game against Denmark on Dec. 15.
Canada opens the under-20 tournament Dec. 26 against Finland at 4 p.m. ET. Games will be played at KeyBank Center, home of the NHL’s Sabres and the nearby HarborCenter.
“With a talent pool as deep as we have in this country, we believe the 22 players eventually selected from camp will give us the best chance at bringing home a gold medal,” Shawn Bullock, Hockey Canada’s senior manager of hockey operations and men’s national teams, said in a statement.
Canada will compete in Group A against the defending champion United States, Denmark, Slovakia and the Finns. Group B is comprised of Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and Russia, which defeated the Swedes for bronze last January.
Canada’s preliminary round schedule
- Dec. 26 vs. Finland: 4 p.m. at KeyBank Center
- Dec. 27 vs. Slovakia: 7 p.m. at KeyBank Center
- Dec. 29 vs U.S.: 3 p.m. at New Era Field (outdoor game)
- Dec. 30 vs Denmark: 8 p.m. at KeyBank Center
The list of camp invites includes goaltender Carter Hart, defencemen Jake Bean, Kale Clague and Dante Fabbro and forwards Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod and Taylor Raddysh, all of whom represented Canada at last year’s tourney.
Defencemen Cal Foote (Tampa Bay) and Cale Makar (Colorado) and forwards Cody Glass (Vegas), Nick Suzuki (Vegas) and Robert Thomas (St. Louis) are among the 11 NHL first-round draft picks.
Montreal Canadiens blue-liner Victor Mete, Columbus Blue Jackets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and Philadelphia Flyers centre remain junior eligible but weren’t named to Canada’s camp roster Wednesday. However, those NHL teams have until Dec. 19 to decide whether to loan them to the world junior squad.
Canada lost the final to the United States 5-4 on a Troy Terry shootout goal at the Bell Centre. The Canadians twice held a pair of two-goal leads, including a 4-2…