Forty-three Team Canada hopefuls continued their quest to represent their country Sunday in Calgary at Hockey Canada’s selection camp. The centerpiece of the day was a Red versus White game, the first of three games played by Team Canada prospects over the four-day camp.
Draft eligible Phil Di Giuseppe of Team White opened the scoring, with the assist going to Minnesota Wild prospect Brett Bulmer. White held the lead for a good chunk of the first period until Team Red’s Freddie Hamilton lasered a shot over the glove hand of Team White’s Tyler Bunz to tie the game. White out-shoot Red 12-7.
The second period was fast-paced, but generally one-sided. Red out-shot White 16-4, and even won the mid-game shootout 2-1. Team White’s Tyler Bunz and Team Red’s Mark Visentin left the game after the shootout, and both looked strong when they played, although neither was really tested during their half-game in net.
The third period featured a bunch of goals and a bunch of shots. Devante Smith-Pelly, fresh from the NHL and knocking people around all game, knocked in a goal to put Team Red up 2-1. However, Michael Ferland scored from the slot for Team White minutes later, setting the stage for Christian Thomas’ game-winner for Team White late in the third period.
Overall, a handful of players impressed. For Team Red, Mark Scheifele, Quinton Howden and Devante Smith-Pelly were a very formidable line for the shifts they were put together. Mark Stone and Ryan Murphy, also of Team Red, also looked good. For Team White, blueliner Matthew Dumba looked surprisingly poised for someone so young. Phil di Giuseppe also looked very strong. Brett Connolly got gradually stronger as the game progressed, but he fell awkwardly into the boards late in the game and left with a lower body injury. Afterwards, Team Canada coach Don Hay indicated that the injury wasn’t considered significant.
NOTES: Brad Ross (White) and Jonathan Huberdeau (Red) didn’t dress, as each team went with 11 forwards (3 centres, 8 wingers) for the game. Each team also dressed 7 defenders. Attendance for the game was 1,421.
The Calgary Flames have two prospects competing for spots on Team Canada this year, which is extra special for the club since the Flames home arena, the Scotiabank Saddledome, is co-hosting this year’s tournament.
Kootenay Ice forward Max Reinhart, a third round choice of the Flames in the 2010 draft, has played a lot of hockey over the last year. He played a full regular season with the Ice, played in all four playoff rounds en route to a WHL Championship, and then played in the Memorial Cup. He noted that the pressure cookers he went through over the last year, particularly in the post-season, have him well-prepared for the rigours of Hockey Canada’s selection camp.
“The Memorial Cup is as compressed and high-pressure as you can get,” said Reinhart. “I learned that first-hand last year and I grew as a hockey player because of it. The playoffs are a similar thing. Maybe a little bit longer with seven games to win it, but you go into every game and you have to play good. That’s the kind of pressure that I like to play hockey under and that’s what this is all about.”
Despite his great season and playoffs, Reinhart wasn’t invited to Hockey Canada’s summer camp. He made it a goal during the summer to make this camp’s roster, and he’s hoping to continue his progression.
“I’m excited about the opportunity that I’ve been given,” said Reinhart. “This was one of my goals from the very start of the year. I’m thrilled to be here and I want to make the most of it.”
Another Flame prospect, 2010 fifth round pick Michael Ferland, wasn’t on many peoples’ long lists for Team Canada a year ago, but he’s elbowed his way into the conversation with a stellar start to the season. Part of the credit for Ferland’s ascendance has to go to his linemate (and fellow Team Canada selection camp competitor) Mark Stone.
“He’s just a great player,” said Ferland of his linemate. “I’d much rather play with him instead of against him. He’s got nice, sick vision and he sees the ice really well and finds guys.”
While Reinhart’s inclusion at camp may have been expected given his family pedigree (his dad is former Flame and Canuck Paul Reinhart) and his playoff success, Ferland was more of a dark horse candidate. He said the camp invite is just another nice moment in a very surreal year.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” said Ferland. “I had pretty big expectations from [Brandon head coach Cory] Clouston and my coaches [and] GM. They put me and Stoner together since the beginning and we’ve been playing well ever since. Hopefully we can stay like that when we get back and just keep progressing. Things have been happening so fast. I just signed with Calgary and now [I’m] here. It’s all been so surreal these past couple weeks. I just want to go out there and play my game.”
Team Canada selection camp continues in Calgary with another Red & White game on Monday night and, following Monday’s cuts, a Team Canada vs. Team CIS game on Tuesday night. Both games go at 7 p.m. at the WinSport Complex at Canada Olympic Park.