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World Juniors

Formenton out of World Juniors for Canada with injury

Senators forward prospect on crutches two days after exhibition game

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- Alex Formenton will not be able to play for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship after the Ottawa Senators forward was injured in an exhibition game.

Hockey Canada announced Friday that Formenton would miss the tournament, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, after injuring his right leg Wednesday.

"We've done everything medically we can for assessments, and unfortunately he has suffered an injury that is a longer-term recovery than this tournament is," Hockey Canada director of men's national teams Shawn Bullock said.

Formenton, who was picked in the second round (No. 47) of the 2017 NHL Draft, was hit just above his knee trying to cut around a defender in overtime of a 3-2 shootout win against U Sports, a Canadian university all-star team, at Q Centre. He was using crutches and wearing a knee brace Thursday and Friday, but Bullock was leaving it to the Senators and Formenton's junior team, London of the Ontario Hockey League, to reveal the specific injury and recovery timeline.

The 19-year-old was expected to be an important player for defending champion Canada at the tournament. He had four points (two goals, two assists) and killed penalties at the 2018 WJC, and he and forward Max Comtois (Anaheim Ducks) were its only returning players.

"Alex was a huge part of our gold medal-winning team," Bullock said. "This was very difficult for Alex to reflect on today as a final decision was made."

Video: OTT@ARI: Formenton redirects shot for first goal

Canada cuts six 

Forward Liam Foudy, selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the No. 18 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, was one of six players cut by Canada when it wrapped up selection camp for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday.

Also released were three defensemen picked in the first round of the NHL Draft: Pierre-Olivier Joseph (No. 23 in 2017 by the Arizona Coyotes), Jacob Bernard-Docker (No. 26 in 2018 by the Senators) and Nicolas Beaudin (No. 27 in 2018 by the Chicago Blackhawks. 

"Not easy," Beaudin said. "Team Canada is one of the toughest rosters to get a spot."

Forward Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers) and goaltender Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles Kings) were also cut shortly after a 5-1 exhibition loss against U Sports.

"One game, one week doesn't define who I am and tomorrow I will wake up and I will still be a goalie playing at a high level," said Villalta, who plays for Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. "It's always tough getting cut from a team and this is the mecca of junior hockey and this is a big opportunity for me and I was hoping to make the team but it didn't work out. I'm still super proud of myself being, I guess, a top-three goalie in Canada right now and getting invited to camp, I think it's pretty special."

Michael DiPietro (Vancouver Canucks) and Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) will be Canada's goaltenders at the 2019 WJC.

Injuries mean one cut remains

Canada still has 23 players remaining and needs to cut one more forward in order to finalize its 22-man roster for the 2019 WJC by Dec. 25. It will wait to see how Los Angeles Kings forward prospects Gabriel Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan each progress in his ongoing return from injury before making a final decision. 

Vilardi is recovering from a back injury and took part in drills at practice Thursday after skating in a non-contact jersey earlier. Anderson-Dolan broke his wrist playing with Spokane of the Western Hockey League on Oct. 27, and is skating in a non-contact jersey but is projected to be ready before the tournament begins Dec. 26.

"They will continue to progress, we will continue to evaluate their situation and hopefully at the end of the day they are part of the program," Bullock said. 

NHL reinforcements?

Bullock said Hockey Canada continues to speak with the St. Louis Blues about center Robert Thomas and the Detroit Red Wings about center Michael Rasmussen, each eligible for the WJC. Thomas, 19, has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 24 games; Rasmussen, 19, has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 31 games.

Each would have to be loaned to Canada before the NHL roster freeze Wednesday. 

"We have been in conversation with both teams prior to the camp and during the camp," Bullock said. "Dec. 19 would be a hard deadline for the program for them."

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