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John Tavares, in white, is checked into the boards during a Wednesday training session. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))

Eleven players— foremost among them 16-year-old John Tavares— were cut by the Canadian junior men's hockey team Thursday.

Tavares, a forward with the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals, was vying to become the first 16-year-oldplayer on the Canadian junior team since Sidney Crosby, now a Pittsburgh Penguins star.

"I've never been cut from a team before," Tavares said. "It's something new to me and it's the worst feeling."

Tavares has 29 goals and 52 points in 27 games with Oshawa this season.

Goaltender Trevor Cann (Peterborough Petes), and defencemen Drew Doughty (Guelph Storm), Keaton Ellerby (Kamloops Blazers) and Patrick McNeill (Saginaw Spirit) were also released.

Aside from Tavares,other forwards not making the cut were Codey Burki (Brandon Wheat Kings), Angelo Esposito (Quebec Remparts), Ben Maxwell (Kootenay Ice), Mathieu Perreault (Acadie-Bathurst Titan), Devin Setoguchi (Prince George Cougars) and Chris Stewart (Kingston Frontenacs).

Tavares, Esposito, Doughty, Cann, Ellerby, Maxwell and Perreault are eligible to return and try out for the 2008 junior team.

Team Canada's roster now numbers 28 — four goalies, nine defencemen and 15 forwards.

Six more players will be released Friday morning when the final Canadian team is named.

Canada, who won the gold medal at last year's tournament, opens play at the 2007 world junior hockey championship on Dec. 26 against host Sweden.

With files from Canadian Press