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Dumba among seven cut from Canada WJC camp

by Aaron Vickers /
CALGARY -- Seven players were returned to their junior teams Tuesday as Hockey Canada made its initial cuts from this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp.

The move leaves the initial 42-player roster at 35. The final 22-player roster for the 2012 World Junior Championship will be named Wednesday.

Defensemen Jerome Gauthier-Leduc of the Rimouski Oceanic, Brenden Kichton of the Spokane Chiefs and Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, and forwards Max Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice, the Brandon Wheat Kings' Michael Ferland, Mark McNeill of the Prince Albert Raiders and Zack Phillips of the Saint John Sea Dogs were the players sent home.

"They're always tough decisions," coach Don Hay said. "Whenever you're dealing with elite players and real good players, the decisions are tough. The first round is tough decisions."

One of those tough decisions was on Dumba, a top prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft and the youngest skater in camp.

"I thought Matt did very well," Hay said. "They're all good players. Matt Dumba is an elite player. We knew he would do well here, but is he ready for this tournament at this time? We don't think so."

Dumba couldn't hide his disappointment.

"I really wanted to make this team. It was really hard to wake up this morning and pack my stuff up. Emotional, but I'll get through it. Just the experience is great." -- Mathew Dumba

"I really wanted to make this team," he said. "It was really hard to wake up this morning and pack my stuff up. Emotional, but I'll get through it. Just the experience is great."

Jaden Schwartz, one of four returning players on Canada's roster, was Dumba's roommate in camp and was with him when he got the call.

"I just tried to wish him the best," Schwartz said. "He's a young kid and I thought he played really well. We talked last night and he said that was some of the best hockey he's ever played."

Schwartz had some words of wisdom that likely hit home for Dumba.

"You look at (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins, how he had such a strong second half and look where he ended up," Schwartz said of Nugent-Hopkins, who was cut from last year's team. "I told him to look at that and not to get down. He's an unreal player."

Seeing Dumba's anguish made Schwartz appreciate his opportunity even more.

"Once he left the room it made me realize today's the last day and you don't take anything for granted," he said. "It makes you want to work that much harder. It's tough. It's never fun leaving and it puts things in perspective and makes me want it that much more."

Players were given the news at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"It sunk in pretty quick, as soon as I heard that phone ring," said McNeill, taken by the Blackhawks with the 18th pick of the 2011 draft. "You jump out of bed and your eyes kind of light up, but like I said, there's still an opportunity for me next year, for sure."

While going home is disappointing, the common thought of the seven players released from the team was that they felt better for having gone through the experience.

"I'm excited I was invited even, to be among the top 42," said Kichton, a 2011 fifth-round pick of the New York Islanders. "I'll take it how it is."

Phillips, taken No. 28 in June by the Minnesota Wild, agreed.

"I'm honored to be here," he said. "It's tough to just make the camp. It kind of sucks getting cut, but I'll wish the rest of the guys luck and hopefully they do well."
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