The drive for a sixth straight gold medal began in earnest on Wednesday as Hockey Canada announced the 22 players that will make up the national team for the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Regina and Saskatoon.
The team made its final roster cuts on early in the morning, releasing forwards Philippe Cornet, Cody Eakin, Scott Glennie and Louis Leblanc, defencemen Tyler Cuma, Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen and goaltenders Matt Hackett and Olivier Roy.
"I think it's pretty much as expected," explains TSN's Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. "There were no huge surprises or cuts that would make anyone ask how that happened."
Highlighting Canada's roster are six players who won gold at last year's championship in Ottawa; Patrice Cormier of the Rimouski Oceanic, Stefan Della Rovere of the Barrie Colts, Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats, Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, Colten Teubert of the Regina Pats.
The cuts at forward mean that Windsor's Taylor Hall, Greg Nemisz and Adam Henrique will be wearing red and white over the holidays, with the likelihood of all three Spitfires playing on the same line. "I don't ever recall an entire junior hockey line playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors," said McKenzie.
Hall, 17, is considered by many as a front-runner as the first overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Nemisz, the Flames' first-round selection at the 2008 NHL draft, had a terrific selection camp, with five points in three games playing alongside junior teammates Hall and Henrique. The trio are also tearing up the OHL as Hall, Henrique and Nemisz sit one-two-three in scoring in Ontario Hockey League.
Henrique, the 19 year-old forward, has 28 goals and 53 points in 32 games this season with the Spitfires and is a third round pick of the New Jersey Devils.
In goal, there was a tight four-way battle and the team ended up keeping Jake Allen of the Montreal Juniors and Calgary Hitmen's Martin Jones.
Allen will likely be the starter in goal when Canada opens the tournament against Latvia. He earned an invitation to summer camp based on the strength of his performance at the recent Under-18 tournament. His efforts earned him the tournament MVP.
Jones, a free agent signing of the Los Angeles Kings in 2008, is 15-5 this season with a 2.83 goals-against average.
Also putting on the Canuck jersey will be Jones' teammate Brandon Kozun. The stocky right-winger currently leads the Hitmen and the Western Hockey League in scoring with 19 goals and 63 points through 33 games.
London Knights centre Nazem Kadri, selected seventh overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in June, is also on the roster and is expected to be the team's second-line centre.
Canada's national junior team will spend the next few days practicing and doing team-building exercises and their first pre-tournament game is Sunday against Sweden (TSN2 at 8pm et/5pm pt).