Three Vancouver Canucks prospects will be suiting up for their respective leagues in the 2013 Subway Super Series against Russia. Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce will play for Team OHL, while Hunter Shinkaruk will lace up the skates with Team WHL.
The Super Series is a six-game exhibition tournament that involves the three major junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) in Canada playing two games apiece against a team made up of Russian junior players. Not only do players compete for their respective league, but this is also a chance to showcase their skills in hopes of landing a spot on the Canadian World Junior team.
The OHL portion of the tournament kicks-off tonight in Oshawa (Sportsnet, 4:00pm PST) and although this is the first year Gaunce and Horvat have played in the Series, this isn’t the first time one of them was named to the roster.
Gaunce was named to Team OHL last year, but a shoulder injury forced him to miss both games, which was something that was on his mind this time around leading up to tonight.
“When I first got named to the team this year I was still focused on the games I still had to play (with Belleville),” said Gaunce, who was named an alternate captain for both games. “Last year I got named to the team and then got hurt right after, so I didn’t focus on it this year until Wednesday and now I am super excited.
“It’s a different environment then with your junior team and you are with the guys that could possibly be on Team Canada. Though it’s just two more games in our season, they are important because of the circumstances and the environment we are playing in.”
Gaunce, who has 23 points (10-13-23) in 20 games this season, feels his game is at a level he wants it to be headed into the series.
“I feel I am playing very well going into it,” said the Belleville Bulls captain. “The last 10 games or so I think my game has been good.”
For Shinkaruk, this isn’t his first taste of the Super Series as he played one game last year, a 1-0 shootout win for Team WHL in front of 11,124 fans at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. This year, the Calgary, Alberta product will have Team Canada coach Brent Sutter behind the bench for both games, which gives Shinkaruk another opportunity to showcase what he can do in hopes of making the World Junior squad in December.
“Last year was pretty important to me with my draft year and trying to make the World Junior team,” said Shinkaruk, who has 16 points (5-11-16) in 14 games this season. “This year will be cool. Brent will be behind the bench and it gives me another chance to play in front of him and try to show him what I got. Hopefully he realizes what I have and hopefully I can have two good games and set the foundation for me to make that World Junior team.”
Shinkaruk came close to making that World Junior team last year and is hoping to turn his childhood dream into a reality in what is his last chance to do so.
“That is one of my biggest goals this year,” said the Medicine Hat Tigers captain. “It has been one of my biggest goals since I was a kid and is my last chance to make it so I want to make sure every game I go out and do my best to make that team. If I do make it and get the chance to go over to Sweden and put on that jersey it will be unbelievable.”
Full Schedule: - Thursday, November 21 (Oshawa): OHL – Russia (Sportsnet, 4:00pm PST)
- Monday, November 25 (Sudbury): OHL – Russia (Sportsnet, 4:00pm PST)
- Wednesday, November 27 (Red Deer): WHL – Russia (Sportsnet, 6:00pm PST)
- Thursday, November 28 (Lethbridge): WHL – Russia (Sportsnet, 6:00pm PST)