OTTAWA – One more defenceman and one less forward makes Canada’s junior hockey team unique.
In a departure from the makeup of junior teams of previous years, head coach Pat Quinn kept eight defencemen and 12 forwards instead of the traditional seven and 13 when the team was named Monday morning.
Windsor Spitfires defenceman Ryan Ellis will be the first 17-year-old defenceman to play for the Canadian junior team since Jay Bouwmeester in 2001. He’s expected to be a power-play specialist.
Also, Montreal Junior forwards Angelo Esposito was named to the team on his fourth try after he was cut three previous years.
Chet Pickard of the Tri-City Americans and Dustin Tokarski of the Spokane Chiefs will be Canada’s goaltenders at the 2009 world junior hockey championship in Ottawa.
The forwards are Esposito, John Tavares of the Oshawa Generals, Medicine Hat’s Tyler Ennis, Jamie Benn of the Kelowna Rockets, Zach Boychuk of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Patrice Cormier of the Rimouski Oceanic, Stefan Della Rovere of the Barrie Colts, Chris DiDomenico of the Saint John Sea Dogs, Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats, Cody Hodgson of the Brampton Battalion, Brett Sonne of the Calgary Hitmen, and Dana Tyrell of the Prince George Cougars.
The eight defencemen are Ellis, Keith Aulie of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Cody Goloubef of the Wisconsin Badgers, Thomas Hickey of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna’s Tyler Myers, Alex Pietrangelo of the Niagara Icedogs, P.K. Subban of the Belleville Bulls and Regina’s Colten Teubert.
The world under-20 championship is a tournament for the world’s best 19-year-olds, but eight of the Canadians are 18 and Ellis pulls the average age down further.
Ten players were drafted in the first round of the NHL draft in either 2007 or 2008. Tavares and Ellis are eligible for the 2009 draft.
Canada opens defence of the gold medal it has won four straight years Dec. 26 versus the Czech Republic.
Cut Monday were goaltenders Tyson Sexsmith and Jake Allen, defencemen Travis Hamonic, Kevin Marshall, Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Spurgeon, Brendan Smith and Tyler Cuma, plus forwards Evander Kane, Riley Nash, Jamie Arniel, Nazem Kadri, Matt Duchene, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Hall and Matt Calvert.
Kane, Duchene, Schenn and Hall are 17 and need more development before they’re ready for the under-20 level.
Cuma suffered a knee injury in the first intrasquad game of selection camp and Calvert was never able to play because of a back injury he suffered prior to camp.