CALGARY — The youngest player at selection camp took his release from the Canadian junior hockey team the hardest.
Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba, one of seven players cut from the squad Tuesday morning, was a longshot to make it at age 17.
Of the defencemen invited to try out, seven are first-round NHL draft picks, which made Dumba’s task more onerous.
Even though the Calgarian has two more years ahead of him to play for his country at the world junior championship, that was little consolation to him.
“It doesn’t make it too much easier,” Dumba said. “I really wanted to make this team. I felt I was ready to maybe play as that seventh defenceman.
“It was real hard to wake myself up this morning and pack myself up. It’s emotional, but I’ll get through it. This experience is great.”
The final cuts Wednesday morning will determine the 22-player team that will represent Canada at the world junior championship starting Boxing Day in Alberta.
Thirty-five players — four goalies, 11 defencemen and 20 forwards — remain at camp. Two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards will make the team.
The remaining camp invitees will play an exhibition game against university players Tuesday night
Dumba’s roommate at selection camp was forward Jaden Schwartz of Colorado College, a 19-year-old who will play for Canada a second straight year.
Schwartz consoled Dumba by pointing out Edmonton Oiler centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this first overall pick in this year’s draft, was cut by Canada last year when he played for the Rebels.
Tyler Seguin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins as a rookie last season, was also cut from the team as a 17-year-old.
“(Schwartz) said ’use that as motivation,’ ” Dumba said.
NHL Central Scouting ranks Dumba third among Western Hockey League skaters for the 2012 NHL draft.
Mark McNeill of the Prince Albert Raiders was the only other player released Tuesday who will get another chance next year because he is 18.
“Hopefully Canada can still go home and bring home the gold,” said McNeill. “There’s still an opportunity next year for me for sure.”
The rest released Tuesday are 19 years old and in their last year of eligibility. The 42 players invited arrived Saturday and had one practice and two intra-squad games before the first round of cuts.
“I thought I had a good game the first game,” Ferland said. “I don’t think I had that good of a game last night.
“It’s a short camp. You’ve got to be ready to go from the start.”