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Ellis, de Haan among CAN WJC camp roster

by Mike G. Morreale
Three returning players from last year's silver-medal winning team will battle for roster spots to represent Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The 2011 World Junior Championship will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo and Niagara, N.Y.

Defensemen Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires, Jared Cowen of the Spokane Chiefs and Calvin de Haan of the Oshawa Generals were three of the 39 players to receive invitations to the final selection camp, which will be held Dec. 11-15 at the MasterCard Centre in suburban Toronto. The list includes 35 players selected in the 2009 and 2010 Entry Draft, and 18 first-round picks.

Three of the players invited are eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in June -- forward Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League and defenseman Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.

Couturier is the No. 1-ranked skater in the QMJHL, according to NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings, which were released earlier this month. Nugent-Hopkins is No. 1 among WHL skaters and Murphy is No. 8 among skaters in the OHL.

A surprise addition to the list was 17-year-old defenseman Ryan Murray, who isn't draft eligible until 2012. Murray, who plays for the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League, played for Canada at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship in Belarus and was named one of the team's top three players by the coaching staff.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley of the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats was one of 12 defensemen chosen for the camp. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, however, Gormley won't be available for the camp after dislocating his kneecap last weekend.

Canada coach Dave Cameron knows the country will be watching following the team's loss to the United States in the gold-medal game in Saskatoon last January -- ending a string of five consecutive WJC gold medals.

"The first thing we want to establish is how hard it is to win the gold medal," Cameron told in August. "There's legitimately three or four teams that have a chance to win this medal and it's going to be hard, so we want the players to recognize right away that it's no longer our divine right to win this tournament and it's going to come down to 2-3 key plays in 2-3 games … whether that be in a shootout or overtime."

The U.S. will announce its training camp roster Dec. 7.

Canada has medaled at 12 straight WJC, including gold medal performances in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, silver medals in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2010 and bronze medals in 2000 and 2001.

Cowen, de Haan and Ellis all captain their respective junior teams, and headline an experienced corps of blueliners. There are six first-round draft picks -- Cowen (Senators, 2009), de Haan (Islanders, 2009), Ellis (Predators, 2009), the Saint John Sea Dogs' Simon Despres (Penguins, 2009), Erik Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs (Panthers, 2010) and Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings (Sabres, 2010).

Prominent forwards of note are 2010 first-round picks Ryan Johansen of the Portland Winterhawks (Columbus) and the Prince George Cougars' Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay).

Four goalies were invited, including the Seattle Thunderbirds' Calvin Pickard (Colorado 2010), whose younger brother, Chet, was on Team Canada's 2009 gold medal-winning team.

"You play to win this gold medal every time, but the reality of it is you're not going to, so when you don't, as we didn't last year, we don't dwell on it," Cameron said. "We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and make sure we're as well prepared as we possibly can be so we're clicking on all cylinders and don't beat ourselves."

Cameron, who referred to the 39 invitees as a blend of blue-collar players with no superstars, has been a part of the National Junior Team coaching staff for three seasons, having won gold as an assistant coach in 2009 in Ottawa before taking silver as an associate coach last year in Saskatoon. He also won gold as the head coach with Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team at the 2004 Junior World Cup.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale



GOALIES -- JP Anderson, Mississauga St. Michael's, OHL (San Jose); Calvin Pickard, Seattle, WHL (Colorado); Olivier Roy, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL (Edmonton); Mark Visentin, Niagara, OHL (Phoenix).

DEFENSE -- Tyson Barrie, Kelowna, WHL (Colorado); Jared Cowen, Spokane, WHL (Ottawa); Simon Despres, Saint John, QMJHL (Pittsburgh); Calvin de Haan, Oshawa, OHL (N.Y. Islanders); Ryan Ellis, Windsor, OHL (Nashville); Brandon Gormley, Moncton, QMJHL (Phoenix); Erik Gudbranson, Kingston, OHL (Florida); Brayden McNabb, Kootenay, WHL (Buffalo); Ryan Murphy, Kitchener, OHL (2011 Draft eligible); Ryan Murray, Everett, WHL (2012 Draft eligible); Dylan Olsen, Minnesota-Duluth, WCHA (Chicago); Mark Pysyk, Edmonton, WHL (Buffalo).

Brad Ross, Portland, WHL (Toronto); Carter Ashton, Regina, WHL (Tampa Bay); Michael Bournival, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Montreal); Casey Cizikas, Mississauga St. Michael's, OHL (N.Y. Islanders); Brett Connolly, Prince George, WHL (Tampa Bay); Sean Couturier, Drummondville, QMJHL (2011 Draft eligible); Cody Eakin, Swift Current, WHL (Washington); Marcus Foligno, Sudbury, OHL (Buffalo); Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver, WHL (Montreal); Curtis Hamilton, Saskatoon, WHL (Edmonton); Joey Hishon, Owen Sound, OHL (Colorado); Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw, WHL (Panthers); Ryan Howse, Chilliwack, WHL (Calgary); Ryan Johansen, Portland, WHL (Columbus); Zach Kassian, Windsor, OHL (Buffalo); Louis Leblanc, Montreal, QMJHL (Montreal); Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer, WHL (2011 Draft eligible); Brandon Pirri, Rockford, AHL (Chicago); Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College, WCHA (St. Louis); Riley Sheahan, Notre Dame, CCHA (Detroit); Reilly Smith, Miami University CCHA, (Dallas); Linden Vey, Medicine Hat, WHL (Los Angeles); Garrett Wilson, Owen Sound, OHL (Florida).
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