There could be a number of local players to watch at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship, starting later this month.
Two Manitobans, a pair of Brandon Wheat Kings, and a member of the Manitoba Moose were among the 35 players to get invited to this year’s National Junior Team Selection Camp.
On the blue line, Brandonite Daemon Hunt of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Vincent Iorio of the Wheaties and Winnipegger Carson Lambos of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice are all getting a tryout.
They’re joined up front by centre Cole Perfetti of the Moose, and Ridly Greig of the Wheat Kings.
Perfetti is off to a great start with the Moose this season. The Jets’ first-round draft pick from 2020 is tied for the team lead in scoring with six goals and eight assists in only 15 games.
Perfetti is a virtual lock to make the national junior team in what will be his third time wearing the maple leaf in just a year.
He also suited up for Canada last Christmas, and then played for his country at the World Championship in the spring. And Perfetti is intent on upgrading the silver medal he won at the last world juniors.
“There’s a lot of redemption from last year,” said Perfetti. “Still have that feeling in my gut of losing the gold there to the U.S.
“I can’t wait. I mean, that’s what you live for as a hockey player — the whole country cheering you on and 20,000 people in the building, and I think it’ll give you goose bumps the first time the crowd goes nuts, or the first time you come out for the opening game.”
The biggest change from a year ago will be fans back in the arena after playing in an empty building last year.
“It’s a dream come true every time you can play for Team Canada,” Perfetti said.
The camp opens next Thursday and if the 19-year-old cracks the roster again, Perfetti would miss at least 12 games with the Moose.
“Everyone is happy for me to go,” said Perfetti. “When they kinda found out, they’re giving me hugs, giving me high-fives, dabbing me up. That kinda stuff, saying congratulations. They’re all so excited for me. So that kinda goes to show what kinda group we have here.
“Getting chirped quite a bit. A lot of guys still didn’t think I was junior eligible, so they were making fun of how young I was, but they’re so happy for me.”
Lambos will be one of 11 defencemen at the selection camp. He’s averaging almost a point per game with the Ice this season with 18 points in 19 contests.
The 18-year-old last represented Canada at the world under-17’s in 2019 and the first round pick of the Minnesota Wild can’t wait for the opportunity.
“Pretty exciting to kinda hear that I was going to be going to the camp, and getting that call, I was pretty stoked,” Lambos told Ice TV. “Growing up it’s kinda every Boxing Day, Team Canada is on the TV. So, to have the opportunity to possibly be that guy on the TV, it’d be pretty cool.
“I know it means so much to the country as well. So it’s going to be a huge honour if I’m given the opportunity.”
There were two major snubs on the Ice with both Matthew Savoie and Connor McClennon getting passed over despite sitting first and second, respectively, in the WHL scoring race.
Canada’s first game is on Dec. 26 against the Czech Republic in Edmonton.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.