Injuries, Goalies, Team Identity: Day 2 World Junior Selection Camp Recap

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World Junior
Nico Daws leads the OHL in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage. He is looking to qualify for Canada's World Junior team (Photo by: OHL Images)

OAKVILLE— Canada’s World Junior hopefuls reached another checkpoint in the Selection Camp process.

Now having completed the doubleheader of practices on Tuesday, the team is now ready to embark on actual games between U Sports on Wednesday and Thursday. A chance for the Canadian selectees to apply the skills and knowledge gained in practice into an actual contest.

Day 2 of the World Junior Selection Camp was filled with a lot of firsts. It was the first time highly touted Sudbury Wolves prospect Quinton Byfield took the ice, after surviving a seven-hour flight delay on Monday. It was the inaugural media availability for Hunter brothers, Mark and Dale, providing insight and perspective on the players on the ice and the character they want in the locker room.

Watching the practices, it is clear that a Dale Hunter-led junior team will be focused on puck possession, speed, and skill.

“We are a skilled team,” said Hunter after Tuesday’s evening practice. “But we need to be a hard-working team. We are going to need to play on top of the puck all the time.”

Team Canada’s Injury Concerns

On the first day of Selection Camp, Los Angeles Kings prospect Aidan Dudas briefly skated before leaving the ice. On Tuesday, Dudas did not participate in any of the two practices.

When asked about Dudas’ status, Mark Hunter reaffirmed what Brad McEwen (Head Scout, Hockey Canada) said on Monday, that they are taking his status “day by day.” Dudas not practicing in either of the two scheduled practices on Tuesday is a cause of concern, especially with the two U Sports games coming up.

Another player absent from the Tuesday practices is consensus No. 1 draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft Alexis LaFreniere. LaFreniere, who also missed Monday’s practice due to a maintenance day. was seen working out on the bike while his teammates were on the ice.

Coming into the Selection Camp, the Rimouski Oceanic forward had played four games in five nights. While his spot on the junior roster is not in question, it appears unlikely that he will play in the U Sports games, in order to be healthy ahead of the start of the World Junior Hockey Championship on December 26th.

“He needs a few days off for maintenance time,” said Mark Hunter. “He has a few bumps and bruises that need to be cleared up.”

Second Consecutive Day Team Canada Goalies Shine

Goaltending is always a pillar that needs to be addressed for Canada’s World Junior teams. And this team is no different.