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Play-By-Play Announcer, Hockey on TSN


With another World Junior Championship done, and the title back in Canada, it is time to take a look at the six Winnipeg Jets draft picks that played in the event.

Three Jets prospects were on Team Canada and all contributed.  In goal, Eric Comrie played two games and won both, one with a shutout. He finished the tournament with a 1.50 GAA and a .933% save percentage. Hockey Canada has such faith in Comrie and Zach Fucale that they were the only two goaltenders in the mix prior to the evaluation camp. Comrie played the New Year’s Eve game against the U.S., with the win assuring a first place finish for Canada in the ‘A’ pool.

Nic Petan started the tournament at centre and ended up on left wing. His biggest offensive output came in the semi-final game against Slovakia, when he scored three goals but could have had five or six. It was his power-play goal that opened the scoring in Canada’s 5-1 win. A four goal night would have tied Petan for the most goals in a game by a Canadian player, joining a group that includes Brayden Schenn, Mario Lemieux and Simon Gagne.

Petan finished tied with teammates Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid for the scoring lead in the tournament with 11 points on four goals and seven assists. In his two appearances at the Championship, Petan has 16 points.

He is in his fourth full year with the Portland Winter Hawks where he has also put up big numbers. In the 2012-13 season, Petan led the league in scoring at with 46 goals and 120 points and followed that up with 113 points (35 goals) in 63 games the next year. He has played in 71 WHL playoff games, including seven as a 15-year-old call-up, 22 as a 16-year-old, and 21 games in each of the past two seasons. Petan has 56 playoff points in 42 playoff games over the past two years.

Defenceman Josh Morrissey was so good in the tournament that he was selected to the All-Star team. It has been an interesting few months for him. Last spring, he joined the St. John’s Ice-Caps for their playoff run and was instrumental in the team making it all the way to the league championship. There was some disappointment after training camp when he was returned to the Prince Albert Raiders but he simply continued to work on making his game better.

In December, the Raiders made the decision that it was time to rebuild and dealt Morrissey to the powerhouse Kelowna Rockets – very much a Memorial Cup contender and an organization that has developed many defencemen into very good NHL players. Another added bonus for Morrissey going to Kelowna was that he will get to play with his younger brother Jake, who is a goaltender for the Rockets.

“We are getting arguably the best defenceman in the WHL,” said Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton after the trade. “I think we’ve done something very good for our hockey club.”

Prior to the gold medal game, Hamilton, who was also on the selection committee for Team Canada, continued his praise of Morrissey.

“He has played very well in this tournament. His game is very good at the moment. He has not tried to do too much here. He has kept his game simple. With that I mean very few instances where he has pinched and got caught. He has done a solid job of getting pucks to the net both on the power play and five on five. We have been very happy with his play up to this point. And a quality young man also.”

Those watching the tournament also saw the physical side of his game. Morrissey finished the tournament with four points and was a plus nine, including being a plus two in the final against Russia.

“Morrissey is the back bone of the Canadian blue line,” said TSN game analyst Ray Ferraro.

Chase De Leo was part of a U.S. team that saw its tournament run come to an end with a quarterfinal loss to Russia. It was an earlier exit than expected, but De Leo had a good tournament. He had some chances and did score the shootout winner against Finland. Like Petan, he plays for the Portland Winter Hawks and has been in 64 playoff games in three years. Last season, De Leo scored 39 goals in the WHL.

De Leo and Comrie share more in common than being Jets prospects.

The friends both grew up in California and signed this agreement when they were younger: Pledge to do whatever it takes to play in the NHL, together or against each other, and be the best of friends until the end.

With both being drafted by the Jets, the opportunity for this to happen is very much there.

Jan Kostalek played defence for the Czech Republic. Like the entire team, he had some good games and some average games. Kostalek has a good shot and makes a good first pass. The Czech Republic’s best game was in their final round robin contest, when a loss would have meant playing relegation games to qualify for next year’s tournament, while a regulation win would secure second place in Group B.

Kostalek had a goal in that game, and with their backs to the wall, the Czech Republic came up with an impressive victory over Russia to make the quarterfinals. It was his best game and he finished the tournament with a goal, two assists and a plus three rating.

The player that caught everyone’s eye at the event was Nik Ehlers, the Jets first round pick last summer. If there was a fan’s choice award, Denmark would have won it hands down. They were the underdog, winning a qualifying tournament in Poland to get to the tourament and were an exciting team to watch. Ehlers finished with a goal and three points, including a shootout goal in a big win over Switzerland, the country’s first championship tournament win in 16 tries. Ehlers showed his breakaway speed, his great hands and his creativity on a regular basis.

All six players now return to their junior teams until they reconvene at Jets camp, whether it be at the summer development camp or rookie camp.

Jets notes – The biggest news is that the injury list is shorter. Zach Bogosian returned on Thursday after missing 14 games, playing 18:56 and paired with Jay Harrison. Mark Stuart and Toby Enstrom are on the trip and skated hard yesterday after the morning skate. If all goes well, they may return for Sunday’s game against Anaheim. That leaves Jacob Trouba and Grant Clitsome as the injured defencemen, with Clitsome out long-term after having a second back surgery on Thursday. Trouba has yet to start skating with the team. Evander Kane’s return is still unknown after feeling some discomfort during Thursday’s skate.

The Jets now head into a very difficult part of the schedule. Starting in Thursday’s loss to Arizona, the team will play seven games in 11 days, ending with a home game against those same Coyotes on January 18.

The loss in Arizona was the worst game the team played, according to head coach Paul Maurice. It was an effort not seen from the Jets for some time. Discipline continues to be an issue for Winnipeg, as the team still leads the NHL in shorthanded situations.