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Four returnees make Canada roster for 2011 WJC

by Adam Kimelman

Four players who won silver medals for Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championship will return for a shot at redemption at the 2011 WJC.

Forward Brayden Schenn and defensemen Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis and Calvin de Haan were named Wednesday as part of the 22-man roster that will travel to Buffalo for this year's World Juniors, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2011.

Players, coach Dave Cameron and Hockey Canada officials officially unveiled the team -- 13 forwards, seven defenseman and two goalies -- Wednesday at a press conference at the MasterCard Center in Etobicoke, Ont.

Cameron was an assistant coach on last year's team, which saw its streak of five-straight gold medals end in January in Saskatoon when the U.S. earned a 6-5 overtime victory.

This year's roster doesn't have the kind of dynamic scorer recent Team Canada entries have featured, but what it does have is size in abundance. Four forwards are at least 6-foot-3, and three defensemen stand 6-4 or taller.

"There's not the big names like John Tavares or Taylor Hall that are all over the highlights and all that," said Ellis. "It's more of a working class (team), a lot of hard workers, a lot of big bodies who can throw their weight around and play a hard, defensive game as well as chip in offensively. We may not be the typical Canadian team that is high-flying offense and good, solid defense. The defense is going to be the biggest part of our game. Team defense is going to be huge, and when we get goals, they'll be at key moments, for sure."

"In the best scenario, if you've got two equal guys and you want a bigger guy as opposed to a smaller guy, it gives you more options," Cameron told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "But we certainly didn't come out and say we’re taking the best big guys. They earned this and we don't think we gave up anything in skill to go with the big guys."

Schenn isn't one of the bigger forwards, but he will be a key component to the offense. Released for the tournament by the Los Angeles Kings after starting the season in the NHL, he had 8 points and a plus-8 rating last year.

Schenn, who was released for the tournament by the Los Angeles Kings after starting the season in the NHL, had 8 points and a plus-8 rating last year.

"It's a little nervous, you never know, and you're nervous for the other guys," Schenn told TSN moments after getting the good news. "It's never an easy sleep, but I have to admit it was a little easier this time around than it was the past two years."

Ellis, a 2009 Nashville Predators first-round pick, will be playing in his third WJC, and has a chance to join Jason Botterill, Jay Bouwmeester and Jason Spezza as the only Canada players with three WJC medals -- he won a gold in 2009 and silver last year. He had 8 points in six games last year.

Cowen, a 2009 first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, had 1 point and a plus-4 rating, and at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, he's the biggest player on the roster. De Haan, a 2009 first-round pick of the Islanders, had 1 point and a plus-4 rating in just four games prior to suffering a tournament-ending shoulder injury.

Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier was the only 2011 Entry Draft prospect to make the team. Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy and Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were among the final nine players sent home, as was Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray, who is eligible for the 2012 Draft.

"It definitely doesn't feel good, but getting the opportunity as a 17 year old was a great honor for me," Nugent-Hopkins told reporters in the hotel lobby. "I really enjoyed the camp and I look forward to coming back next year hopefully."

Other players sent home from the team following Tuesday's exhibition game against a team of Canadian college All-Stars were forwards Brandon Pirri (Blackhawks), Michael Bournival (Canadiens), Riley Sheahan (Red Wings); defenseman Mark Pysyk (Sabres); and goalies J.P. Anderson (Sharks) and Calvin Pickard (Avalanche).

"Coach Cameron said coming into this week he wanted all the players to make their jobs tough and he said I did that," said Pysyk, Buffalo's 2010 first-round choice (No. 23). "I did the best I could. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is."

Joining Schenn and Courtier at forward will be Carter Ashton (Lightning), Casey Cizikas (Islanders), Brett Connolly (Lightning), Cody Eakin (Capitals), Marcus Foligno (Sabres), Curtis Hamilton (Oilers), Quinton Howden (Panthers), Ryan Johansen (Blue Jackets), Zack Kassian (Sabres), Louis Leblanc (Canadiens) and Jaden Schwartz (Blues).

The moment was especially meaningful to Schwartz, who said his first phone call would be to his sister, Mandi, who has had a very public battle with leukemia.

"The family's been through a lot the last couple years, me and my family, especially my sister," Schwartz told TSN. "They wanted me to be here. It's a great opportunity for me. I'm going to call Mandi right now and she'll be very happy. It's a dream come true for me. It's a big moment for me and my family."

The defensemen will be Cowen, de Haan, Ellis, Tyson Barrie (Avalanche), Simon Despres (Penguins), Erik Gudbranson (Panthers), and Dylan Olsen (Blackhawks).

In goal will be Olivier Roy (Oilers) and Mark Visentin (Coyotes).

The roster features 15 players taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, including six from the 2010 Draft in Los Angeles -- Gudbranson (No. 3), Johansen (No. 4), Connolly (No. 6), Schwartz (No. 14), Howden (No. 25) and Visentin (No. 27).

Of the 22 players on the roster, 20 play in the Canadian Hockey League. Olsen (Minnesota-Duluth) and Schwartz (Colorado College) play for NCAA colleges.

Canada will play three exhibition games prior to the start of the WJC -- against Switzerland in Oshawa, Ont., on Dec. 20; against Sweden in Toronto on Dec. 21; and against Finland in Kitchener, Ont., on Dec. 23.

Canada will be in Group B at the World Juniors, along with Norway, Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia, who will be Canada's first opponent at the tournament, on Dec. 26.

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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