Following two days of intrasquad scrimmaging and some serious note-taking, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League announced the release of nine players from Canada's National Junior Team selection camp on Tuesday morning.
The nine players released were defensemen Jesse Blacker (Toronto, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) and Brayden McNabb (Davidson, Sask./Kootenay, WHL) and forwards Brendan Gallagher (Delta, B.C./ Vancouver, WHL), Joey Hishon (Stratford, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL), Ryan Howse (Prince George, B.C./ Chilliwack, WHL), Brad Ross (Lethbridge, Alta./Portland, WHL), Reilly Smith (Mimico, Ont./Miami University, CCHA), Linden Vey (Wakaw, Sask./Medicine Hat, WHL) and Garrett Wilson (Elmvale, Ont.).
''It's definitely not a good feeling,'' said Hishon. ''It's probably the first time I've ever been cut by a team, but it's hard to argue with Hockey Canada's decision with their track record.
''I'll be their biggest fan over Christmas. It was tough, the games were pretty scrambly and tough to show your stuff, but I can't make any excuses. I should have played better.''
Blacker actually replaced injured defenseman Brandon Gormley on the pre-camp roster. Gormley sustained a knee injury while playing for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebeck Major Junior League just prior to the selection camp announcement.
Canada coach Dave Cameron had defenseman Erik Gudbranson paired with Jared Cowen in Monday's scrimmage. While nothing has been set in stone, there's little doubt defenders Cowen, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Ellis and forward Brayden Schenn will return to the Canadian lineup this year.
The remaining nine players released will likely be determined on Wednesday, if not earlier, in order to determine the final 22 roster spots at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship. The selection camp roster now stands at 31 players, including four goaltenders, 10 defensemen and 17 forwards.
Canada has medaled at twelve straight IIHF World Junior Championships including gold medal performances in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, silver medals in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010 and bronze medals in 2000 and 2001.
Forward Marcus Foligno, who holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship and is the son of former NHLer and ex-Buffalo Sabre Mike Foligno, scored a pair of goals for Team Red in Sunday's exhibition at MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
In Monday's scrimmage, Team White rebounded for a 7-5 victory behind goals from Ryan Johansen, Zack Kassian, Gallagher, Cody Eakin, Jared Cowen, Casey Cizikas and Vey. Quinton Howden chipped in with three assists. For Team Red, Jaden Schwartz, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Howse, Reilly Smith and Carter Ashton connected.
Cameron said he will evaluate all four goalies -- J.P. Anderson of Mississauga St. Michael's (OHL), Calvin Pickard of Seattle (WHL), Olivier Roy of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) and Mark Visentin of Niagara (OHL) -- before making his final cuts at the position.
All 2011 draft eligible camp invites -- Ryan Murphy of Kitchener (OHL), Sean Couturier of Drummondville (QMJHL) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer (WHL) -- remain, as does 17-year-old defenseman Ryan Murray of Everett (WHL). Murray is eligible for the 2012 Draft.