It was a virtual no-brainer that super-skilled Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be among the 46 players invited to the Canadian junior hockey team’s summer evaluation camp.
But Red Deer head coach Jesse Wallin was somewhat perplexed by the omission of Rebels all-star defenceman Alex Petrovic when the invitation list was released by Hockey Canada Friday.
“I’m really surprised, to be honest,” said Wallin. “He had a good season and he’s a good hockey player who is well-regarded in our league. He was picked as a (second-team) all-star by the coaches and GMs. He’s a pretty good player.”
It’s the second year in a row that Petrovic, who has previous international experience with Team Pacific and the national under-18 team, has been snubbed by those in charge of identifying prospects for the Canadian junior squad.
By performing at a top level through the first two months of the season, Petrovic could still earn an invitation to the final selection camp in December.
“The door is not closed, this is the first step in the (selection) process,” said Wallin. “But yet, with him being a 19-year-old player and a player of his calibre, I certainly would have liked to see him at the (summer) camp. “
“I have no idea why he wasn’t invited. I haven’t talked to anyone from Hockey Canada so I don’t know what the reason is, or if there is a particular reason or if they just felt they had guys ahead of him. Certainly my opinion is somewhat biased being his coach and being close to him, but yes, I certainly am a bit surprised.”
• While netminder Darcy Kuemper has signed with the Minnesota Wild, the other two Rebels’ graduates — defenceman Colin Archer and forward Brett Ferguson — are leaning towards attending university this fall.
Wallin said Archer has McGill high on his list, with Ferguson eyeing the University of Alberta. Ferguson also has a pro tryout with the Edmonton Oilers.