Kaiden Guhle gears up to play for Canada again at world juniors, but in his home rink this time

Kaiden Guhle will be even more of a hometown favourite at the 2022 world junior men's hockey championship in Edmonton.

19-year-old from nearby Sherwood Park, Alta., is 1 of 3 returning players from 2021

Kaiden Guhle, pictured this month at the Canadian World Junior Hockey Championships selection camp in Calgary, had two goals and one assist in the 2021 tournament. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Kaiden Guhle will be even more of a hometown favourite at the 2022 world junior men's hockey championship in Edmonton.

The Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders traded the defenceman to the Edmonton Oil Kings the same day he was invited to the Canadian junior hockey team's selection camp Dec. 1.

"It was a little bit of a crazy day," Guhle said.

He's one of three returning players from the Canadian team that earned a silver medal in Edmonton at the 2021 world under-20 tournament there.

While the 19-year-old from nearby Sherwood Park, Alta., was considered a local product then, there were no fans in Rogers Place to acknowledge that because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be spectators this time and Guhle is pumped up about it.

"Sometimes you just lay in bed and think about it and get chills just thinking about how electric Rogers Place is going to be," Guhle said. "Definitely going to be fired up for the first shift and all the games that come, so that will be special.

"It's going to be a little bit different now that it's my home rink."

Canada's roster will be unveiled Monday at the conclusion of selection camp. The host country opens the tournament co-hosted by Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., on Dec. 26 against the Czech Republic.

3-0 exhibition win for Canada

Connor Bedard had two goals and an assist for Canada in Saturday's 3-0 exhibition win over a team of university players.

Joshua Roy contributed a goal and an assist and goaltender Sebastian Cossa posted a 29-save shutout.

Canada's Dylan Garand turned away 29-of-30 shots in U Sports' net for 33 minutes before giving way to Brett Brochu in the second period. Brochu stopped 17-of-19 shots in regulation.

The teams tacked a five-minute overtime and a shootout onto Saturday's game. Bedard assisted on Dylan Guenther's goal in OT.

Canada faces the university team again Sunday afternoon.

Guhle squeezed in three games with the Oil Kings before selection camp. The first-round (16th overall) draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2020 scored a game-winner for the Oil Kings in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Ice the night before reporting to Calgary.

He's one of four Oil Kings invited to try out for Canada alongside goaltender Cossa and forwards Guenther and Jake Neighbours.

'It was a long time coming'

Guhle is a virtual lock to play for Canada again. The six-foot-three, 203-pound defenceman got in an NHL training camp with the Canadiens this year and appeared in three pre-season games.

"It was a long time coming. With COVID, we didn't have a training camp," Guhle said. "It was special to play a few pre-season games there and be there for almost a month was really awesome."

He feels his game is at another level this year because of that experience.

"One year is pretty big at this age group, so maturity," he said. "My puck-moving skills have improved a little bit just from seeing other guys play, being with other guys in higher levels and playing pro hockey."

Canada fell 2-0 to the United States in the gold-medal game of the 2021 tournament at Rogers Place.

Gold medal hopes

Guhle, who had two goals, one assist and was plus-8 in that tournament, would like nothing better than to win gold this time in his home rink.

"I don't think there's unfinished business for myself, just unfinished business for the team," he said. "Playing at home, there's a lot of pressure and when you're playing for Canada you're expected to win.

"The guys know that. The guys are hungry for a gold medal."

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