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Primeau: Clear objective

Cayden Primeau has his sights set on representing his country at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - Cayden Primeau was changing out some beds in the Northeastern University dorms as part of his student job earlier this summer when he received an unexpected phone call.

It was U.S. National Junior Team head coach, Mike Hastings, on the other end of the line, inviting the 18-year-old goaltender to participate in the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase, which begins this weekend in Kamloops, BC. 

"It was kind of out of the blue," recalled Primeau, one of four goaltenders who received invitations to participate in the event that also features the top youngsters from Canada, Finland and Sweden. "I've grown up wanting to play World Juniors. The last couple of years, I realized that it could potentially be an option, so when I got the call, it was exciting."

No doubt Primeau earned the right to travel to British Columbia after stringing together a solid freshman campaign with the Huskies in the NCAA ranks.  

After posting a 19-8-5 record last season, along with a sparkling 1.92 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage in 34 appearances in between the pipes, the Voorhees, NJ native is eager to put himself to the test again and strut his stuff in front of the American brass.

"It's the best of the best. I've always just wanted to play at the highest level," said Primeau, who was a finalist for the 2018 Mike Richter Award, which is presented to the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA hockey. "It's great to be involved in an event like this. I'm just excited to see the great group we have and all the talent in one place. We all want to be on the team come December, so everyone is going to be pushing each other."

The Canadiens' seventh-round selection - 199th overall - in 2017 isn't about to let the excitement of being on-site get in the way of his performance, though. He's taking a calm, cool and collected approach into his very first Summer Showcase experience.

"I'm just trying to go in with an open mind and just play my game. I want to be confident and comfortable," affirmed Primeau, who spends his summer back home training with goalie coach, Chris Kanaly. "When I feel confident, I feel like I'm playing my best. That's the mindset I'm trying to go into this with."

Should Primeau ultimately crack the roster, it would mark his first time representing his country internationally since taking part in the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship in Slovakia. The Americans claimed gold, but Primeau didn't see game action.

"It was a different perspective, because if I'm not playing I'm usually watching from the bench. So, it was different being up in the stands," mentioned Primeau, on being the squad's third netminder. "But, it was still cool because I enjoyed watching all those talented guys play - not just the goalies, but everyone. Being around them in the locker room was special."

As would being a member of the U20 contingent, of course. The competition opens on Boxing Day, with games slated for Rogers Arena in Vancouver and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria. 

"Words can't describe what it's like to put that jersey on. Every time is like the first," confided Primeau, who backstopped the United States to a World Junior A Challenge gold medal in 2016 in Alberta. "Being able to have the opportunity to make the team and then playing in the tournament I've grown up watching would be special."

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