Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Next Generation of World Junior Stars Taking Nothing for Granted

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Next Generation of World Junior Stars Taking Nothing for Granted

Article excerpt

Canada's next junior stars want to earn spots

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When Travis Sanheim was cut from Canada's world junior hockey camp nine months ago, the coaching staff told the young defenceman they expected him to be a crucial piece to the 2016 team. He watched his would-be teammates win gold on home ice.

Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner were watching, too, eager to see respective Ontario Hockey League teammates Connor McDavid and Max Domi put on a show on the biggest junior stage.

Those three players and others, including forward Michael Dal Colle and defenceman Jeremy Roy, arrived at Canada's world junior summer camp with plenty of expectations on themselves to make the 2016 team, and Strome, Marner and Sanheim should be among the go-to players in Helsinki.

But they're all reluctant to think of themselves as the next generation of stars because they're several months away from even earning a spot on Canada's roster.

"I don't think you expect anything, and you don't take anything for granted," Sanheim said in a phone interview Monday. "It's Team Canada. It's the greatest hockey country in the world, and it's going to be a tough team no matter what."

The 2015 team was impossibly difficult to make, especially for 17-year-olds. Only McDavid, who went first in the NHL draft to the Edmonton Oilers, and winger Lawson Crouse, a fellow top-10 pick, could claim that distinction.

So as disappointed as he was, Sanheim realized why he was one of the final cuts last December, and Strome and Marner got why they were passed over for camp invites. Now they're expected to get big roles and are motivated by that.

"We both wanted to make that team," Marner said of himself and Strome. "Such skilful forward lines that when we didn't make it I think we both understood our chances next year. Both of us are on a line this year for this camp.

"We've got to leave our footprint. I think we're both willing to do that."

Leaving a footprint is important because coach Dave Lowry said the summer camp is just the beginning of the evaluation process. Roster spots aren't assured for Strome, the third pick to the Arizona Coyotes, or Marner, who went fourth to the Toronto Maple Leafs, even though they went 1-2 in OHL scoring last season. …

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