Team Canada held its World Junior’s Summer Evaluation Camp over the past week, which included a couple days of practicing in Quebec before heading to Lake Placid, NY for a trio of games against Finland, Sweden and the United States.
Team Canada was 5-3 winners over Finland and 7-3 winners over Sweden before dropping their final game, 5-1 against the United States.
Three Vancouver Canucks prospects put in good showings. Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk all stood out during their two-game audition in front of head coach Brent Sutter.
Canucks.com takes a look at how all three fared in Lake Placid.
Horvat made the transition to left wing from his usual centre position for the camp and didn’t seem to miss a beat. The London Knights star was still counted on to take key faceoffs in the offensive and defensive zones and said playing the wing isn’t that unfamiliar for him.
“My first year of junior is the last year I played the wing,” said Horvat. “I played a little bit of it last year and I feel confident playing the wing, it doesn’t matter to me and it’s good to be versatile by playing the wing and center so they can use me wherever they want.”
Horvat sat out of Canada’s opening win over Finland, but got his first taste of action in the 7-3 romp over Sweden in Game 2 of the camp.
Horvat skated on a line with Curtis Lazar and Sean Monahan and the Canucks ninth-overall selection in 2013 potted his only goal of the camp midway through the third period of the game by redirecting a pass all alone in front of the net.
On Saturday against the United States, Horvat once again played wing, this time on a line with Shinkaruk and Scott Laughton. The native of Rodney, Ontario, was held off the score sheet in the loss.
“I thought I played well,” said Horvat. “It was a little different playing the wing again, it’s been a while, but that’s where they put me and I had to kind of adjust my game and get back into playing the wing. I just played my role and did what Coach Sutter asked me to do.”
Gaunce may have been the best player on the ice at times during the two games he saw action in. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder led Team Canada in scoring for the camp with four points (1-3-4) in two games.
“Anytime you’re at a camp trying to represent Ontario or Canada you always go in very excited and it’s what you want to do as a kid is to play for Team Canada,” said Gaunce. “Once you go into a camp, even a summer camp where you are playing against other countries and wearing the Canadian jersey you are always pretty hyped up for the games.”
The Canucks 2012 first-round pick opened the tournament centering a line with Anthony Mantha and Kerby Rychel. Gaunce scored the game-winner in the 5-3 win over Finland after crashing the net hard and banging home a rebound with 9:57 left in the third period. The native of Markham, Ontario, also added an assist on the opening goal to give him two points on the night.
In Game 2 against the Swedes, the line of Gaunce, Rychel and Ryan Rupert were noticeably one of the top offensive lines on the ice. Gaunce and his teammates help blow open the game with two goals in a 37 second span just before the midway mark of the middle stanza. The Belleville Bulls captain assisted on both goals.
“I thought it got better with each shift,” he said. “When you come for the summer your timing is always a little bit off but I thought I adjusted pretty well to the role I was giving and I think it showed in both games.”
Shinkaruk’s speed + crazy fast hands + big ice = scary. The puck seemed to follow the Medicine Hat Tigers captain around the ice, especially in the opening game.
“It’s really fun when you get to try out for Team Canada, it’s always kind of a dream come true,” said Shinkaruk. “The fact we got to go to Lake Placid and play in the rink where the Miracle on Ice happened was really fun. It’s just another step to try and make that team this upcoming year.”
Shinkaruk played on a line with Sam Reinhart and Frederik Gauthier against Team Finland and had a goal and assist on the night. The native of Calgary, Alberta, scored into the empty-net to make it a 5-3 game.
Shinkaruk sat out of Game 2 and returned to action in Canada’s most disappointing game of the camp, the 5-1 loss to the United States. Shinkaruk skated alongside Horvat and Laughton for the game and while the trio didn’t find the back of the net, they did produce the most chances of any of the four Canadian lines.
“I thought I played well. Obviously the second game was tougher, our team had a tough game and its never fun losing to the Americans,” he said. “I thought I played my game and I played with a lot of speed and tried to create offense when I had the puck. I am happy with where my game is and I thought it was a good game for me.”