Team WHL braintrust passes on Blazers
The selection committee in charge of naming Team WHL’s roster for the Subway Super Series against Team Russia left the Kamloops Blazers out of the lineup.
Among the Blazers who had a shot at cracking the team is defenceman Austin Madaisky, who isn’t going to let the snub dampen his spirits.
“Obviously, they felt that there were better guys out there,” Madaisky said.
“It’s not in my control and you try not to worry about the things you can’t really control.”
The series will see teams of Canadian Hockey League all-stars compete against a group of junior Russian select players. Only players under 20 are eligible to play.
Team WHL hosts Game 5 of the six-game series on Nov. 16 in Regina and Game 6 on Nov. 17 in Moose Jaw.
Games 1 and 2 will pit Team Quebec Major Junior Hockey League against the Russians, who will face off against Team Ontario Hockey League in Games 3 and 4.
The Dub’s team was selected by a committee made up of WHL general managers and Kevin Prendergast, Hockey Canada’s head scout for the national junior team.
Colin Smith, who leads all Blazer skaters with eight goals and 18 points, was in Team WHL’s picture, but was eventually left on the cutting-room floor.
“I don’t think you ever really expect to make the team, but I thought it could have gone either way,” said Smith, an Edmonton product.
“Whenever you get overlooked, you kind of want to show people what you can do.”
The showcase series doubles as part of Hockey Canada’s evaluation process for the national junior team that will take the ice at the World Junior Hockey Championship (WJHC), which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 12 in Calgary and Edmonton.
Hockey Canada will host its final selection camp from Dec. 10 to Dec. 14 in Calgary.
Being overlooked by the Team WHL brass has not quelled Blazer forward Brendan Ranford’s desire to play for Canada in that tournament.
“I’m not going to stop trying to maybe even get a late invite to that camp,” the Blazers’ sniper said.
“I can use this as motivation to improve and work hard.”
A six-game suspension for cross-checking official Kris Hartley across the chest on March 11 might have diminished Ranford’s chances of making Team WHL this time round.
“I think that suspension hurt me last year a little bit and I haven’t had the greatest start this season,” said Ranford, who’s amassed nine goals and 16 points in 11 games this season.
Ranford, Madaisky and Blazer captain Chase Schaber cracked Team WHL in 2010, the first year the Russians won the series since its inception in 2003.
The Blazer trio and their teammates lost 7-6 in a shootout to the Russians on Nov. 17 at Interior Savings Centre.
Don Hay (Vancouver Giants) is Team WHL’s head coach. Ryan Huska (Kelowna Rockets) and Lorne Molleken (Saskatoon Blades) are the assistant coaches.