REGINA — It was a bittersweet day for the Canadian junior hockey team.
Cody Eakin, Louis Leblanc and seven others suffered the disappointment of being cut from the squad Wednesday while it was a happy day for those who will be going to the world junior championships.
Eakin, a 26-goal scorer for the Swift Current Broncos this season, was given the bad news early Wednesday morning along with Harvard forward Leblanc, Philippe Cornet of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Scott Glennie of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Also cut were defenceman Tyler Cuma of the Ottawa 67’s, Shawn Lalonde of the Belleville Bulls and Dylan Olsen of the University of Minnesota-Duluth; and goaltenders Matt Hackett of the Plymouth Whalers and Olivier Roy of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
That meant that players on the bubble like centres Luke Adam of Cape Breton and Nazem Kadri of the London Knights and goalie Martin Jones of the Calgary Hitmen made the team.
”I can’t say I’ve ever been cut before, but I’ll take something from it and focus on the next one,” said Eakin as he left the team hotel with his bags. ”Being cut’s being cut.
”It doesn’t matter what position you’re in. You want to be making the team and having success with the team. It’s disappointing and I’ll take a while to think about it.”
On Tuesday, the team released forwards Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers and John McFarland of the Sudbury Wolves and defencemen Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats and Nicolas Deslauriers of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Defencemen who made the team are returning veterans Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires, Colten Teubert of the Regina Pats and Alex Pietrangeo of the St. Louis Blues, as well as Calvin de Haan of the Oshawa Generals, Travis Hamonic of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Marco Scandella of the Val d’Or Foreurs and Jared Cowen of the Spokane Chiefs.
The Spitfires line of centre Adam Henrique, Taylor Hall and Greg Nemisz all made it, as well as centre Patrice Cormier and right winger Jordan Caron of the Rimouski Oceanic.
The centres are Henrique, Kadri, Cormier, Adam and Brayden Schenn of the Wheat Kings.
Left-wingers are Hall, Gabriel Bourque of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Brandon McMillan of the Kelowna Rockets and Stefan Della Rovere of the Barrie Colts.
Right-wingers are Caron, Nemisz, Jordan Eberle of the Pats and Brandon Kozun of the Hitmen.
The tournament is set for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Regina and Saskatoon.
Leblanc, the Montreal Canadiens first-round draft pick who plays at Harvard, said a slow start at camp probably hurt his chances, but he looks forward to taking another crack at making the team next year.
”It’s not a good feeling, but I’ll take the positives from this,” the Montreal native said. ”I didn’t get the offence I wanted. A few bounces and it could have turned around.”
Glennie was not so much a cut, but lost his chance to make the squad when he suffered a concussion in the second of two intrasquad games after a hit from Cuma. He said he still has headaches and no timeline has been set on when he’ll be ready to play.
Cuma was a late addition to the camp. He was called in when defenceman Patrick Wiercioch was unable to skate due to a knee injury. He had played the two nights prior to camp for the 67’s and then had to play three more intense games.
”They were pleased with my effort, but it wasn’t enough,” sad Cuma, who missed out on last year’s world juniors in Ottawa when he was injured in camp and knew he was a longshot this time around.
There was a tight four-way battle for the goaltenders and they ended up keeping favourite Jake Allen of the Montreal Juniors and Jones.
”They said I played good, but there were four great goalies here,” said Hackett. ”I was pretty happy to be here and whatever happened, happened.”
”I know I have another shot next year, but you still feel like you wasted a chance,” said Roy. ”I didn’t do worse than the others, but maybe I had to do more. I was the shortest one and the youngest.”