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Canada names roster for Ivan Hlinka Cup

Maxime Comtois, 16-year-old Joseph Veleno among 22 selected for tournament

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Maxime Comtois, a potential first round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, was among the 22 players selected to represent Canada at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

The tournament will take place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia, from Aug. 8-13.

"It's a great tournament," said Ryan Jankowski, director of player personnel for Hockey Canada. "It's a pleasure to be able to bring our best team. Really there's only two times in the Hockey Canada way of doing things we can put our best out, and that's at the Olympics and the Ivan Hlinka. That's the fun part. We get to pick the best 22 players to represent the country.

"The other teams are good too. We've had some challenges. That's just a part of it. That's what's great about this tournament. Our guys get to learn about international competition, and at the end of the day it's our best players."

Canada has won gold in eight straight, 11 of 12, and 18 of the past 20 Ivan Hlinka tournaments since 1996. The United States won gold in 2003 and Sweden won in 2007.

"We understand the expectations of playing for Team Canada," coach Paul McFarland said. "We understand the great history that Canada has at this tournament. There's no hiding from it. Us as a group, we're just focused on the process and getting better each and every day."

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

Comtois, who last month was named to the NHL Central Scouting Futures List for North America and Europe, had 26 goals and 60 points in 62 games with Victoriaville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

"It's an amazing feeling," he said. "I don't have any words to describe it. It's just fun to represent your country on the international stage. I can't wait to put that jersey on. It's so big. You don't represent just yourself. You're representing the whole nation. Canada wants gold every tournament. You have the opportunity to do that. It's just an amazing feeling."

Also named to the team were forwards Owen Tippett and Michael Rasmussen. Tippett had 15 goals and 20 points in 48 games with Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League, and Rasmussen had 18 goals and 43 points in 63 games with Tri-City of the Western Hockey League last season.

"It's another amazing experience," said Tippett, who had three points in seven games at the IIHF 2016 World Under-18 Championship in April. "It's pretty surreal. You dream of it as a little kid and something you want to do when you grow up. It's a pleasure."

Forwards Joseph Veleno and Ryan McLeod, and defenseman Evan Bouchard, eligible to be drafted in 2018, also were named to the team.

In 2015, Veleno became the first player from Quebec to be granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.

"I'm just pretending I'm their age and I'm not really focused on being younger," the 16-year-old said. "I'm here like the rest of the guys trying to make a team. I'm very honored to be selected to the team. The main goal is going to be to win a gold medal like the rest of the guys, and do it with all 22 players there."

Forward Gabe Vilardi will be unable to participate in the tournament after being injured Tuesday in the first period of the final scrimmage. Vilardi had 17 goals and 38 points in 62 games for Windsor of the OHL last season.

"It's always tough, more for the player, to get hurt at a camp like this," McFarland said. "Injuries are a part of the game. Gabe had a great camp. He's going to have a great season for Windsor this year."

Canada will be in Group B in the tournament with Russia, Slovakia and Sweden. Group A consists of the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and the United States.

Canada roster for the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup

Goaltenders: Michael DiPietro, Windsor (2017 draft eligible); Ian Scott, Prince Albert (2017 draft eligible)

Defensemen: Evan Bouchard, London (2018 draft eligible); Antoine Crete-Belzile, Blainville-Boisbriand (2017 draft eligible); Ian Mitchell, Spruce Grove (2017 draft eligible); Jacob Paquette, Kingston (2017 draft eligible); Markus Phillips, Owen Sound (2017 draft eligible); Elijah Roberts, Kitchener (2017 draft eligible); Jonathan Smart, Kelowna (2017 draft eligible)

Forwards: Jordy Bellerive, Lethbridge (2017 draft eligible); Shane Bowers, Waterloo (2017 draft eligible); Maxime Comtois, Victoriaville (2017 draft eligible); MacKenzie Entwistle, Hamilton (2017 draft eligible); Stelio Mattheos, Brandon (2017 draft eligible); Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (2018 draft eligible); Greg Meireles, Ottawa (2017 draft eligible); Michael Rasmussen, Tri-City (2017 draft eligible); Matthew Strome, Hamilton (2017 draft eligible); Jack Studnicka, Oshawa (2017 draft eligible); Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound (2017 draft eligible); Owen Tippett, Mississauga (2017 draft eligible); Joseph Veleno, Saint John (2018 draft eligible)

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