Canada shapes world junior roster with final 5 cuts
McNiven, Girard, Brisebois, Steel, Senyshyn released after win over Czechs
Canada announced the final cuts to its world junior hockey roster following Wednesday night's 8-0 drubbing of the Czech Republic in Boisbriand, Que.
Goaltender Michael McNiven, defencemen Samuel Girard and Guillaume Brisebois and forwards Sam Steel and Zach Senyshyn were given the bad news.
"It's always difficult, especially is year and especially after this game — those guys pushed it down to the wire," said coach Dominique Ducharme. "The part that's not fun is to meet the five guys and tell them they didn't make it, but we're really happy with the 22 guys we have and we look forward to moving ahead with those guys."
The surprise cut was Girard, a skilled, attacking rearguard who looked good in camp.
"I think it was a question of fit for them," said Girard, a Nashville Predators second-round draft pick who should get another chance to make the world junior squad next year. "I'll go back to my junior team and perform there and be ready for next year."
McNiven was in tough from the beginning, but made it a close battle with Carter Hart and Connor Ingram for the two goaltending jobs.
"I was the underdog but other than the first game I was pretty impressed with myself," said McNiven, a Montreal Canadiens prospect. "I just hope the boys have a good time and bring home gold."
Senyshyn, picked 15th overall by Boston in 2015, said he was disappointed but "I got to play with a lot of incredible players. I won't forget the experience."
It's your last time to shine in front of the scouts and the coaches and I feel like everyone put it on the line.- Forward Tyler Raddysh on cracking Canada's 22-man world junior roster
Steel, picked 30th overall by Anaheim in June, looks forward to getting another chance to make the team next season.
"It's tough now but I'm sure I'll get through it and hopefully learn from it," said Steel. "I thought I played a decent game, but there a lot of good players here."
Canada stormed out of the gate and overwhelmed the Czech Republic. Mitchell Stephens and Taylor Raddysh each scored twice while Julien Gauthier, Dillon Dube, Anthony Cirelli and Mathew Barzal also had goals for Canada, which played a third game in three days after a pair of wins against the U Sports all-stars.
"We had a good team game tonight, all our lines were going," said Raddysh. "It's your last time to shine in front of the scouts and the coaches and I feel like everyone put it on the line.
"We all knew what was at stake. We all responded well to that. Everyone knew what we had to do."
Canada wrapped up a four-day selection camp for the world juniors Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Montreal and Toronto.
Ducharme made his first four cuts on Tuesday as defenceman Victor Mete and forwards Brett Howden, Nick Merkley and Auston Wagner were sent back to their junior teams.
Canada starter Connor Ingram had to be sharp in Wednesday's game with the glove on a tip by Lukas Andel for his best stop.
He was replaced by McNiven at 11:04 of the second after stopping all six shots he faced.
Forward Tyson Jost, who took a shot on the ankle against U Sports on Tuesday, was a late scratch and was replaced by Anthony Cirelli.
As well as five Tampa Bay prospects (including Cirelli) on Canada's team, Lightning draft pick and Saskatoon Blades defenceman Libor Hajek (37th overall 2016) suited up for the Czechs.
Canada scratched goalie Carter Hart, defenceman Noah Juulsen and forwards Dylan Strome and Nicolas Roy.
Team Canada roster
- Carter Hart (Sherwoord Park, Alta.)
- Connor Ingram (Imperial, Sask.)
- Jake Bean (Calgary)
- Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta.)
- Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam, B.C.)
- Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C.)
- Jérémy Lauzon (Val-d'Or, Que.)
- Philippe Myers (Moncton, N.B.)
- Anthony Cirelli (Woodbrige, Ont.)
- Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta.)
- Pierre-Luc Dubois (Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.)
- Mathieu Joseph (Chambly, Que.)
- Tyson Jost (Kelowna, B.C.)
- Michael McLeod (Mississauga, Ont.)
- Taylor Raddysh (Caledon, Ont.)
- Nicolas Roy (Amos, Que.)
- Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.)
With files from CBC Sports