Notes from WJHC camp: Howden hurt in Red-White game

Mark Masters

12/13/2011 2:16:07 AM


Forward Quinton Howden was hit hard by Brett Connolly midway through the second period of Monday night's intra-squad game at Canada's world junior selection camp. Howden, a Florida Panthers prospect who plays for Moose Jaw in the WHL, barely made it off the ice under his own power. He left for the dressing room immediately.   

Head coach Don Hay said Howden has an upper-body injury and he will be re-evaluated on Tuesday morning.

"It's a tough play. I was just trying to finish my check," said Connolly, who said he was planning on apologizing to Howden. "If it was to do it over again, maybe I would have held up. I felt bad."

Connolly, loaned to the junior program by the Tampa Bay Lightning, was assessed a two-minute boarding penalty for the hit, which elicited a gasp from the crowd. 

Howden and Connolly are two of the four returning players at the camp. Goalie Mark Visentin and forward Jaden Schwartz are the other two players, who won silver for Canada last year.


Brett Connolly was questionable for Monday night's intra-squad game at Canada's national junior team selection camp but he did play. The forward sustained a lower-body injury during the third period of Sunday night's game.

Connolly, loaned to the junior team by the Tampa Bay Lightning, is one of four players at the camp, who won a silver medal for Canada last year. But Hay warned that the 19-year-old from Prince George, B.C. is not a lock for the team.

"I think we'd like to see everybody play," said Hay. "I think that's the most important thing. We want to evaluate everybody in different situations and Brett brings his skill set obviously, but we want to go out and see him compete."


The Niagara IceDogs practised shootouts quite a bit last week so when centre Ryan Strome skated in all alone on Mark Visentin during Sunday's intra-squad game at Canada's world junior selection camp, the goalie figured he should make the save.

It didn't turn out that way as Strome, a New York Islanders prospect known for his fancy stick work, made a nice move before tucking the puck past his Ontario Hockey League teammate.

Watch the shootout

"We were working on shootouts pretty much every day last week so I kind of thought I was going to get him there, but he beat me so good for him," said Visentin while wearing a big grin.

"I just tried to pull out some tactics on him to see what he was going to do, read and react, and he did a good backhand, forehand fake and then beat me on the backhand side so good for him."

Visentin, considered the favourite to be Canada's starter when the tournament opens, stopped the other three players he faced in the shootout, which was held at the midway point of the game before he and Tyler Bunz gave way to Louis Domingue and Scott Wedgewood.

Another shootout was held at the end of the game with Domingue and Wedgewood stopping three of the four players they faced.


Bunz allowed two goals in the shootout, but did not lose any sleep over it.

"It was fun," the Medicine Hat Tigers goalie said. "I'm not very good in shootouts, but I made a good save on [defenceman Brandon] Gormley there. He had me beat, but I stuck out a glove and the two goals they did score on me it was Mark Stone and Ty Rattie and they were pretty nice goals so you can't be mad at yourself too much about that."

What did eat at Bunz a bit was the one goal he allowed – a weak shot by Freddie Hamilton.

"There was that one goal that I'd like to have back, but you just have to recover from that and keep coming hard and playing the way that you can," said Bunz. "Goals like that are going to happen and the coaching staff looks at how you react from that and how you rebound and I think after that goal I really settled in, felt comfortable with my game after that."


It will be a nervous night at Canada's selection camp for a number of players including 17-year-old defenceman Mathew Dumba. The Red Dear Rebel, one of five draft-eligible players at the camp, is hoping to survive the first round of cuts, which will be announced Tuesday morning. 

And Dumba could not ask for a better person to help him through what will be a tense evening. His roommate is Jaden Schwartz, who was part of last year's silver-medal-winning team. 

"It's a nerve-wracking night," said Schwartz. "I remember I didn't get a lot of sleep last year and I'm sure it's going to be the same this year. I'll help him out as much as I can and keep him loose and relaxed."

Dumba and Schwartz had not met before this camp, but hit it off immediately in Calgary.

"It's fun rooming with him," Schwartz said, "and it's good seeing him last night as a young guy coming in and being effective. I thought he played a real good game yesterday and he's asking questions and trying to learn as much as he can and I'm trying to help him out as much as I can."


Head coach Don Hay suggested a lot of players looked nervous during Sunday's intra-squad game and while Dumba admits he was a bit anxious he insists that did not affect his game. 

"I did what the coaches asked me to do, kept it simple, moved the puck up the ice and played a good defensive game, which they wanted. I was patient and waited for my opportunities for hits and where to battle and compete and I thought I did that well.

"Everyone's nervous and I was definitely nervous, but once I got on the ice I kind of got more focussed in on what my goal is and what I need to accomplish."


While some junior defenceman would grimace at the thought of going head-to-head with Devante Smith-Pelly, loaned to the junior team by the Anaheim Ducks, Dumba was excited to measure himself against the 5-foot-11, 212-pound forward. 

"I was competing hard in the corners against some of the top guys like Smith-Pelly and had some good battles out front and hopefully tonight I'll show them a bit more of the physical play.

"You watch him on TV, I was watching a Ducks game the other night against Toronto, and you see him out there and to now be on the ice with him it's pretty special. I'm just taking it all in, but at the same time you can't look at him and admire him out on the ice, you got to play hard and get in his face and get gritty and that's what the coaches want to see."


Forward Jonathan Huberdeau will not skate on Monday as he continues to recover from a fractured foot suffered on Nov. 7. The team hopes the third overall pick in last year's NHL draft will be ready to get on the ice on Tuesday.

But it appears Huberdeau will not need to prove himself in game action during the selection camp in order to earn a spot on the final 22-man roster. 

"Jonathan just came back from his X-rays, the doctors have looked at him, he's getting evaluated," said Hay. "He won't go on the ice today. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more from him tomorrow. We've seen a lot from him, of what he's done in the past, what he's capable of doing and we're, at this time, we're really comfortable with what we've seen."

Although Hay and his staff will unveil the players who have made the team on Wednesday, Canada does not have to officially finalize its roster until Dec. 25.

"If we feel he won't be ready for the 19th we'll have to look at it from there," said national team head scout Kevin Prendergast. "The other option was keeping an extra player, but we don't what to do that either. Hopefully in the next couple days Jonathan will be on the ice and we'll get an idea from there."

Canada will play three pre-tournament games starting on Dec. 19 against Finland.


Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Brad Ross skated on his own Monday morning. The forward, who plays for Portland in the WHL, missed Sunday's game with a lower-body injury.



Di Giuseppe-Scheifele-Stone