A little over a week ago, 42 players were selected to the Team Canada Under-18 Selection Camp for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial that runs annually in August over in the Czach Republic & Slovakia. Of the 42 players selected, 40 came from the CHL and from the 40 CHL players selected, 19; almost half of the CHL invites came from the Ontario Hockey League. Below are the 40 CHL players selected (OHL players are in bold)
Now any fool can just list and highlight, but this fool will do one better. 19 players, 19 yes or no’s as to whether or not I believe they will actually make the final roster come August. This will be posted after the 40 CHL player invites
Domenic Graham, Drummondville Voltigeurs: Matt Murray, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: Francois Tremblay, Val d'Or Foreurs
Gianluca Curcuruto, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels
Matt Finn, Guelph Storm: Jesse Graham, Niagara IceDogs: Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough Petes: Marcus McIvor, Brampton Battalion: Adam Pelech, Erie Otters: Dominic Poulin, Chicoutimi Sagueneens: Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks: Ryan Pulock, Brandon Wheat Kings: Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings: Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors: Nicholas Walters, Everett Silvertips
Andreas Athanasiou, London Knights: Troy Bourke, Prince George Cougars: Mathew Campagna, Sudbury Wolves: Luca Ciampini, Halifax Mooseheads: Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls: Felix Girard, Baie-Comeau Drakkar: Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi Sagueneens: Justin Kea, Saginaw Spirit: Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals: Brendan Leipsic, Portland Winterhawks: Brandon Magee, Victoria: Jarrod Maidens, Owen Sound Attack: Matia Marcantuoni, Kitchener Rangers: Chris Marchese, Erie Otters: Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67's: Ryan Olsen, Saskatoon Blades: Connor Rankin, Tri-City Americans: Kerby Rychel, Windsor Spitfires: Tyrel Seaman, Brandon Wheat Kings: Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers: Gemel Smith, Owen Sound Attack: Chandler Stephenson, Regina Pats: Robert Trzonkowski, Calgary Hitmen: Thomas Wilson, Plymouth Whalers
Yay or Nay:
Matt Murray, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – I don’t know much about the other 2 goaltenders from the CHL but I do know that the 4th Goaltender, David Altshuller (CCHL), property of the Belleville Bulls is the favourite to win this job and I can easily see Matt Murray winning the back up position to push Altshuller and possibly steal it from him
Gianluca Curcuruto, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – To be honest when I would watch the Greyhounds he was normally not in the lineup. I know he will be counted on more this season to progress the greyhounds and from what I hear he is training exceptionally hard to earn every minute under the new regime in the Soo. Unfortunately it will not translate into an invite to the U18’s.
Matt Finn, Guelph Storm – Finn possesses the qualities you want from a player in this setting. He is a great young defenceman who has learned from some of the best in Guelph in terms of growing on and off the ice. But I do not see this getting him across the pond in August
Jesse Graham, Niagara IceDogs – This is a no brainer. YES. I have seen him far to many times, and I have looked for holes in his game. When you consider he is 17, and a rookie… you can say ok next time he wont do that. Best part is… he doesn’t make the same mistake again.
Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough Petes – well let me see… he made the team last year as an ‘underage’ player beating out some healthy competition. So in all respects is there someone to knock him out of this lineup? I say no, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a letter on his jersey.
Marcus McIvor, Brampton Battalion – this kid scares me as he is a monster out of his gear, and when he is on the ice, it is over. Stay at home defenceman by nature learning how to move the puck better, but once you come around him… good luck getting by him. Given the competition at this tournament you will hear his name a lot, a la Shea Weber & Dion Phaneuf if Pierre Maguire did colour) an overwhelming yes.
Adam Pelech, Erie Otters – I want to say yes to Adam. in all my talks with his Otter teammates they just praise his growth as a player day by day. I have also heard that he can stop McKegg, Varone, Thompson and the likes with ease. Granted they are his teammates and it was practice but I will actually give him the green light here.
Andreas Athanasiou, London Knights – this kid given a split second will have you turned around. His hands, his speed, his passing ability. Given this team will be coached by a Kitchener Ranger… Green light based on that skill.
Mathew Campagna, Sudbury Wolves – there are 4 things I like about Mathew: 1. Spells his name with one T, 2. Grew up next door to Gino Reda and lived to tell about it, 3. His Mom is the loudest hockey mom I think I have ever heard… and I sit on the other side of the rink from her. And 4. He is an exciting young player to watch that you just want to see succeed. Welcome to the U18 team Mathew
Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls – I don’t seem to have the same love for Brendan as others do. I just don’t see it. I wish I could, but I right now I don’t see what makes him so great or even what gets him an invite to this camp. More than likely it had to do with his 6’2” 205 pound frame. I will be eating my words really soon, I am aware of that, but I have to pass on Brendan… If he was named Brandon though…
Justin Kea, Saginaw Spirit – broke out in the second half of the season, not on the stat sheet, but just overall. Another big boy standing at 6’4” 200 pounds, he didn’t play much behind a veteran forward corps that was pushing for a deep playoff run, but there is quite a bit of potential in that big body of his. Because I said no to Brendan, I will have to say no to Justin.
Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals – WOW! Simply put, if you have not seen this kid play yet *facepalm* where have you been. His 12 goals and 23 points are a little misleading as there was veteran talent a head of him, including a trio of draft eligibles, He has a bit of a mean streak which is good for playing on that edge. YES to ‘Super Scott’
Jarrod Maidens, Owen Sound Attack – Since watching him at the OHL Showcase Cup I have been intrigued with Maidens. He isn’t a pure scorer, or a passer with amazing vision. He is a well rounded player who became Owen Sounds Golden Child, OT Winner in OHL Finals afterall. Jarrod will be one of those underdog, never get the credit he deserves players and he is ok with that. Yes to Jarrod as he knows his role and he will shut his… wait… I’m not The Rock.
Matia Marcanutoni, Kitchener Rangers – The thing about Matia is… I can’t remember him. I watched a lot of Rangers games, and heard his name and heard about his skill but at this moment I can not picture him. I recall him having some wheels and a good set of hands to dish the biscuit to where it needs to be. I know I will hear it if I say no, but based on what I recall being told, I don’t see how he is not on this team.
Chris Marchese, Erie Otters – No ifs ands or buts I never seen Chris play. I have watched Otters games and even then I do not remember hearing his name once. Sorry Chris, I gotta go with no and plead ignorance. But please feel free to Prove me Wrong.
Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67’s – Man o Man do I like this kid. He progressively gotten better, off the ice, on the ice and on the score sheet. 20 goals on the year, 9 in the final 3 weeks, with 5 multi point games in 8 for the month of March. Those are the stats, and even Sean will tell you. Stats are not my game, winning is. And he learned a lot of good things from Tyler Toffoli, Ryan Martindale, Thomas Nesbitt and the other core veterans on this team. A resounding YES.
Kerby Rychel, Windsor Spitfires – I wasn’t to say no just because he is a Windsor Spitfire. And I do not believe he will be on this team, but not for that reason. I just don’t see Kerby beating out some other players for his 4th line role as an energy guy. I like how he plays, it is doing him good, but for Team Canada. I have to say no to him wearing the Red and White in August.
Gemel Smith, Owen Sound Attack – Gemel made an impact on people during the OHL Playoffs. He was used in very small amounts but when you let him loose, you had no idea what was going to happen. Most for the better too. He is this energy guy who could beat out a Kerby Rychel to wear the Maple Leaf. But unlike his teammate Maidens… Smith in my estimation, will not make the cut.
Thomas Wilson, Plymouth Whalers – Another young player on a veteran team where he had to take his lumps and learn how to be a role player if he wasn’t going to be a Mahalak, Livingston, Meurs etc. Has the talent and the size but numbers will catch up to him and I will have to say no.
So a brief summary gives you 11 of 19 OHL invites making the cut and heading to Europe in August to play for Team Canada. With only 22 players being named to the team the OHL would be represented well. Here is hoping that all 19 of the OHL invitees make Team Canada. That would be a lot of long distance calling for me. But well worth it.