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Canada names roster for 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup

Forward Veleno will captain efforts to win gold after fifth-place finish last year

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Forward Joe Veleno will get a second chance at gold.

Veleno, a potential first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, was among the 22 players selected to represent Canada at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. 

"I'm really grateful to get a second chance at it," said Veleno, who was part of Canada's fifth-place finish last year. "Not too many guys get a second opportunity. I'm really fortunate to be one of those guys to get a second chance at winning gold for Canada. Obviously, any player would love to make their country proud and win gold for them."

Canada had won eight consecutive tournaments before the Czech Republic earned gold in 2016.

Veleno, who will serve as Canada's captain, is the first player to represent his country twice at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

"We have to play the Canadian way," said Veleno, who was the first player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to be granted exceptional player status and was drafted No. 1 by Saint John in 2015. "Canada's usually well represented in these tournaments. We're going to have to follow that tradition of playing the Canadian way and hard-nosed hockey, and good things will happen.

"One of the major things I've learned last year was you've got to play every game, all 60 minutes of the game. You can't take 10 seconds, 20 seconds off. Obviously it'll cost you, especially in a short tournament like this. That's one thing I'm going to bring. I'll make sure the guys know.

"We have a special group here and I think we have good things ahead of us."

The tournament will be held in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia, from Aug. 7-12.

Canada has won the gold medal in 11 of the past 13 Ivan Hlinka tournaments overall and in 18 of the past 21 since 1996. The United States won gold in 2003 and Sweden won in 2007.

"It's Canada," said coach Brent Kisio. "It's Canada's only team, with the Olympics gone, that we have our best players at this tournament. We expect gold. We have to go over there and earn it. It's going to be a tough challenge. It seems countries are getting better and better every year. We're excited. We feel like if we play the way we can we'll have a good chance."

The roster was picked after a five-day selection camp at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park.

Veleno will be joined by left wing Benoit-Olivier Groulx, defenseman Jared McIsaac and goaltender Alexis Gravel of Halifax, and defenseman Ryan Merkley of Guelph in the Ontario Hockey League.

Each are projected to be chosen in the first round in 2018.

"The expectation is to win gold," Merkley said. "Every time you put this jersey on you're representing Canada. You go out to win gold no matter what. No matter what tournament it is, you go into it to win gold.

"It was eight in a row. The expectations are there to win. It's not the tournament they wanted last year. We've just got to go win gold."


Canada roster for 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup

Goaltenders: Alexis Gravel, Halifax (2018 draft eligible), Olivier Rodrigue, Drummondville (2018 draft eligible)

Defensemen: Calen Addison, Lethbridge (2018 draft eligible); Kevin Bahl, Ottawa (2018 draft eligible); Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (2018 draft eligible); Jared McIsaac, Halifax (2018 draft eligible); Ryan Merkley, Guelph (2018 draft eligible); Ty Smith, Spokane (2018 draft eligible); Jett Woo, Moose Jaw (2018 draft eligible)

Forwards: Luka Burzan, Moose Jaw (2018 draft eligible); Ty Dellandrea, Flint (2018 draft eligible); Aidan Dudas, Owen Sound (2018 draft eligible); Nolan Foote, Kelowna (2019 draft eligible); Gabriel Fortier, Baie-Comeau (2018 draft eligible), Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Halifax (2018 draft eligible); Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (2018 draft eligible); Anderson MacDonald, Sherbrooke (2018 draft eligible); Jack McBain, Toronto (2018 draft eligible); Serron Noel, Oshawa (2018 draft eligible); Jackson Shepard, Kamloops (2018 draft eligible), Akil Thomas, Niagara (2018 draft eligible); Joe Veleno, Saint John (2018 draft eligible)

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