When Ottawa 67's defenceman Tyler Cuma was injured just two weeks ahead of the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship, he was heartbroken that he wouldn't have the chance to try and compete for his country on the world stage. The blow was softened only by the fact that, at 18, he would be still be eligible to play for Canada the following year.
Now, one year later, the time has come to narrow down the roster for the Canadian squad, and Cuma - despite being healthy this time around - will not realize his dream this year either.
Hockey Canada announced its 36-player roster for its final selection camp on Wednesday and Cuma was not among those named.
"I didn't have a clue what was going on," Cuma said. "I knew they were making the selection today, but my agent called me about five minutes before they made the final announcement and told me that I wasn't going to be on the roster.
"It's tough knowing that it would have been my last shot at a World Junior and I thought my play was fine the last month and a half or so," said Cuma. "But clearly there are other players that are doing better than me. I'm not going to sit here and dwell. I wish them all the best, whatever may come out of it."
Back in December of 2008, Cuma suffered a brutal knee injury while playing in the red-and-white game at Scotiabank Place. He ended up on crutches and missed out on the selection camp.
This time around it is not any easier.
67's head coach Chris Byrne weighed in to support his player, who was clearly disappointed on Wednesday.
"I think we were surprised that he wasn't invited but we know that those guys have a tough job and there's lots of great players across Canada to pick from," said Byrne. "Obviously we wish that team well and it's tough for Tyler not making it. We know he'll be a little disappointed for a few days here and get right back into it with our team."
Byrne did offer up some positive advice for the 6'2, 192-pound blueliner.
"It doesn't mean he's not a good player, it doesn't mean he's not going to have a great NHL career," said Byrne. "There are many guys who haven't played on (Team Canada) and done well."
The first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2008 (23rd overall), Cuma is in his fourth season with the 67's. In 21 games this season, he has one goal, seven assists and 30 penalty minutes.