You could call it a second chance, the hard way.
One year after Tyler Cuma was injured at Canada's National Junior team selection camp, and less than two weeks after he was not among the original invitees for this year's squad, he will get his chance to make the team, after all.
On Sunday, the team sent defenceman Patrick Wiercioch, who plays for the University of Denver in the NCAA, back home due to a knee injury that he suffered prior to camp. He is being replaced by Ottawa 67's blueliner Cuma, who arrived in Regina in time for the squad's first Red-White game on Sunday evening.
"I'm just overjoyed with another opportunity that's open for me," said Cuma. "It's unfortunate for (Wiercioch), I know exactly what he's going through since I went through it last year.
"It's a tough break for him but those kind of things happen to any player. Fortunately I was the next guy in line, and I'm very happy that I got the opportunity to come here once again. Hopefully this year I'll make a good impression and stick with the team," added Cuma.
Wiercioch, a native of Maple Ridge, BC, was drafted in the second round by the Ottawa Senators in 2008. He has two goals and 10 assists in 16 games for Denver this season.
Cuma was a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) of the Minnesota Wild in 2008. The Pickering, ON native has nine points in 25 games with the 67's this season. He acknowledged that his learning curve at camp will have to be rapid. He is arriving on Day Two, with final cuts scheduled for Day Five.
"You've got to be immensely prepared, that's for sure," said Cuma. "There are only a couple of days to make a good impression, so you have to come in and perform right off the get-go, and that's what I'm here looking to do. There are no excuses for me now, I've got to get going right away."
As potential line combinations and defensive pairings take shape, Team Canada head coach Willie Desjardins and his staff have Jordan Eberle (Regina - WHL, 29 goals in 28 games) and Nazem Kadri (London - OHL, 20 goals in 28 games) together on a line for Team Red. On Team White, the Windsor Spitfires high-scoring duo of Adam Henrique (53 points in 32 games) and Taylor Hall (59 points) are matched with the top scorer in the CHL, Brandon Kozun of the Calgary Hitmen (62 points).
In terms of a potential shut-down defensive pairing, returning blueliner Colten Teubert of the Regina Pats is playing with Marco Scandella of the Val D'Or Foreurs. The duo also played together at Canada's summer evaluation camp.
The camp's four goalies have been divided up as well. Matt Hackett (Plymouth - OHL) and Olivier Roy (Cape Breton - QMJHL) will play for Team Red against Jake Allen (Montreal - QMJHL) and Martin Jones (Calgary - WHL) on Team White.