Zary, Garand off to impressive starts at Team Canada selection camp

Zary made an impression on Team Canada head coach André Tourigny on Sunday in the second of three intrasquad games, racking up three points while playing on a line with Kirby Dach and Philip Tomasino

Connor Zary and Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers are making early statements at Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp in Red Deer.

Zary made an impression on Team Canada head coach André Tourigny on Sunday in the second of three intrasquad games, with players jostling for jobs on the squad that will represent the country at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship.

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The 19-year-old forward from Saskatoon played left wing on a Team White line that featured centre Kirby Dach and right-winger Philip Tomasino.

Zary notched two assists and added an empty-net marker in a 6-3 win over Team Red. Dach scored twice and Tomasino added a single.

“I think he had his best game today,” Tourigny said of Zary after the game on Sunday. “Connor was one of our best players after four days of practice. He works really hard. He’s tenacious and he did a really good job. In his first game, he was OK. Today he was good, was really good.”

Zary played centre in the first scrimmage on Saturday, with Adam Beckman on the left wing and Tomasino on his right. The Blazers’ forward registered one assist in a 4-2 victory over Team Red.

“He played centre yesterday, played wing today,” Tourigny said on Sunday. “He showed some flexibility in his play He’s a flex player, can play different positions, different roles, can take face-offs, can play both special teams, so he showed a lot of good tools.”

Garand started between the pipes for Team White on Saturday and stopped all 11 shots that came his way.

The 18-year-old Victoria product did not enter the game on Sunday, but is expected to play in the third intrasquad contest on Tuesday.

The camp roster – which includes five goaltenders, 15 defencemen and 26 forwards – features 22 players taken in the 2020 NHL draft (including Zary and Garand) and 18 prospects from the 2019 NHL Draft.

Final rosters for the tournament will be expanded this year, with 22 skaters and three goaltenders instead of the usual 20 skaters and three goaltenders.

The first cut, which may take place on Tuesday night, will likely see about 15 players sent home.

The 2021 world juniors, originally scheduled to be held in Red Deer and Edmonton, will be played in front of no fans in Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Red Deer and Edmonton will host in 2022.

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