Calgary Flames prospect Brandon Hickey will make the trip to Finland with Team Canada for exhibition games at the 2016 World Junior Championship.
The Boston University sophomore survived Sunday's cuts at Canada's final selection camp; defenceman Jakob Chychrun and forwards Michael Dal Colle, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Spencer Watson were released from camp yesterday.
He is one of nine defencemen vying for a spot on Canada's blueline. Canada's final cuts are expected to be made after the exhibition games against Belarus on Dec. 19 and the Czech Republic on Dec. 20.
"I have to go there and take everything in, have fun, but work hard and play my game,” he told CalgaryFlames.com earlier this month. "I think going there, you can’t put too much pressure on yourself because that will hinder your performance. I think going there and being confident and having fun is the best way to approach it."
Joining Hickey in Finland is fellow Flames prospect Mason McDonald. Originally, he was one of just two goaltenders invited to Canada's final selection camp, guaranteeing him a trip to Finland over the holidays.
But Mackenzie Blackwood was handed a eight-game suspension by the Ontario Hockey League that will negate him from playing in the first two games of the World Junior Championship, giving McDonald an even greater opportunity to nab the starting role.
However, he knows not to get too comfortable. Neither his experience he has with Hockey Canada or Blackwood's situation guarantees him anything.
"I wouldn’t say I’m the front runner," McDonald told CalgaryFlames.com. "I know I’m coming in with a lot of confidence and that I’m confident in my ability going into it. As long as I play my game and do what I’m doing right now, I’ll be fine."
Canada opens its title defence at the World Juniors against the United States on Boxing Day.