Canada's final 22-man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship is finally set, as head coach Don Hay and Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Predergast made their last round of cuts on Wednesday morning.
Medicine Hat Tigers netminder Tyler Bunz and Louis Domingue of the Quebec Remparts were sent back to junior, leaving 2011 returnee Mark Visentin as the starting goaltender and Plymouth's Scott Wedgewood in the backup role.
On the blueline, Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels, Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ryan Murphy, Portland's Joe Morrow and Ottawa's Cody Ceci didn't make the final cut.
"I was kind of in a deep sleep," Petrovic said about the disappointing phone call early in the morning. "I had a little dream of actually waking up and making the team, but I got the call. Obviously, it's a heartbreak."
For Murphy, TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro thought there wasn't enough risk and there wasn't enough reward for him at camp.
"Murphy is a tremendously skilled puck mover - he's high risk and high reward," Ferraro said. "I don't know that he's 100 percent all the way back and in the final battle for the guy that's going to run the power-play and be the offensive minded defenceman, Nathan Beaulieu of Saint John of the Quebec League really stood out. If it came down to those two players, Beaulieu beat out Murphy."
Murphy was a 12th overall draft selection of the Carolina Hurricanes this year.
"It's pretty difficult," Murphy said. "Getting woken up at 6 a.m. is not the easiest thing and knowing it's you and not your roommate is also not an easy thing. I'll be back next year maybe and hopefully make the team then."
With no returning players from last year's squad on the blue line, Canada's defence will consist of newcomers Mark Pysyk, Nathan Beaulieu, Jamie Oleksiak, Scott Harrington, Ryan Murray, Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Gormley.
"Most of these players have played at other high level events through Hockey Canada's programs in the past," Ferraro said. "I think they feel that their defending style will be good enough. I have to believe that at some point in the tournament you'll wish you had an experienced guy, you just don't."
Ottawa 67s winger Tyler Toffoli, Portland Winterhawks Brad Ross and Ty Rattie, Michigan winger Phil Di Giuseppe, Christian Thomas of the Oshawa Generals, Victoriaville's Phillip Danault and Brett Bulmer of the Kelowna Rockets were among the forwards sent home on Wednesday morning.
"I was a little surprised that Phillip Danault was released. I thought he had a camp that got stronger as the days went on and thought he'd be in the mix for that final forward spot," said Ferraro.
Danault is 18 years old and will have another chance to make the team next year.
"I'm cut but I respect their decision," said Danault, who scored twice in an exhibition game. "If they win the gold medal, I'll respect it more for sure."
Heading up the team's forward unit will be three returning players, Brett Connolly, Quinton Howden and Jaden Schwartz. Joining the trio will be Devante Smith-Pelley who was released by the Anaheim Ducks to play for Canada and Mark Scheifele, who was selected seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Ottawa Senators prospect Mark Stone is on the club along with two prospects from the Montreal Canadiens, Michael Bournival and Brendan Gallagher. Ryan Strome, Boone Jenner, Jonathan Huberdeau and Freddie Hamilton are also with the team. Freddie and Dougie Hamilton become the first brothers to play for the Canadian team since Randy and Mike Moller in 1982.
Tanner Pearson is the only 2012 draft eligible forward on the team.
Canada will play exhibition games in Calgary, Red Deer, Alta., and Edmonton next week. They begin the World Junior Hockey Championship on Boxing Day against Finland.