The road to reclaiming its glory at the World Junior Championship began Friday when Hockey Canada announced its roster for the country's National Junior Team summer development camp, scheduled for August 3-7 in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alta.
Seven returning players from Canada's silver medal-winning 2011 WJC team highlight the 46-player roster -- forwards Brett Connolly, Sean Couturier, Quinton Howden, Ryan Johansen and Jaden Schwartz, defenseman Erik Gudbranson and goaltender Mark Visentin.
After dropping an overtime decision to Team USA in the gold-medal game in 2010, Team Canada suffered another heartbreaking gold-medal game loss in 2011 in Buffalo, when it couldn't hold a 3-0 third-period lead en route to a 5-3 loss to Russia.
The camp roster includes four goaltenders, 16 defensemen and 26 forwards.
"Last year's team was pretty much a blue-collar team that was big, hard-working and fit the bill of (coach) Dave Cameron's type of coaching," Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast said. "What I think we're going to have this year, we're going to be a lot smaller, but we're also going to be a lot more skilled."
The 2012 WJC will be held from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Calgary and Edmonton. Don Hay of the Vancouver Giants will coach the team, George Burnett (Belleville Bulls), Ryan Huska (Kelowna Rockets) and Pascal Vincent (Montreal Juniors) serving as assistant coaches.
Of the 46 players attending the camp, 21 are eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, including five of the top six players in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft -- Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (No. 1), Saint John Sea Dogs center Jonathan Huberdeau (No. 3), Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton (No. 4), Saint John defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (No. 5) and Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier (No. 6).
NHL teams will be well-represented at the camp, with 18 teams sending at least one prospect. The Phoenix Coyotes will have three players there -- goalies Visentin and Louis Domingue, plus defenseman Brandon Gormley. The Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks will have two prospects each at the camp.
There also will be two players eligible for the 2012 Entry Draft at the camp -- Ottawa 67s defenseman Cody Ceci and Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray.
At the conclusion of the summer camp, Prendergast will continue to monitor those selected players and other potential candidates before inviting a group of players to a final selection camp in December. From there, a roster of 22 players will be named to the final National Junior Team.
"Canada has many very talented players across the country in this age group, and the players should be very proud to have an opportunity to showcase their abilities at this camp in Edmonton," said Prendergast. "We are looking forward to a competitive, high-energy camp."
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