The Beatrice Ice Gardens was about half full of fans, scouts and media on Wednesday night to observe the second red and white game for the Canadian World Junior Team. With the first five cuts expected to come early Thursday morning this game was very important for those players on the bubble. This is especially true for the d-men since there are only 2 spots open on the blueline and 8 guys trying out. Here is a rundown of some of the players who impressed and also 5 players I believe will be going home Thursday.
IMPRESSIVE:Mike Cammalleri (LW) – The little dynamo from Michigan was probably the best player on the ice. He is skating very well and passing the puck beautifully. He also scored a very nice goal with a pinpoint accurate shot in the top corner.
Brian Sutherby (LW) – It is obvious that this guy had been playing with the big boys in the NHL for a while this year. He was a physical presence as well as showing good speed down the wing. Sutherby is a sure bet to win one of the available forward spots.
Scottie Upshall (LW) – Played very well, has good speed and works hard on every shift. He will also make the team in my opinion and will be a valuable asset. Looked much better than Nash. At this point I would say Upshall is ahead of Nash for the 2002 draft.
Matthew Lombardi (C) – It is obvious that Lombardi wants a spot on the team badly. He is working very hard and has great speed. He seemed to adapt to there being no red line very well, getting in behind the defense to spring himself on a couple of breakaways.
Jay McClement (C) – Played a very good defensive game. He is quick enough to be an excellent back-checker and may be the one chosen to fill this role for Canada.
Nick Shultz (D) – The Minnesota Wild d-man was not as dominant as I would have expected but he is very solid and will be in the top pair for the Canadian squad.
Jay Bouwmeester (D) – Through the first 2 periods of the red-white game he was unimpressive but then in the 3rd he started pressing up ice with the puck and showed his unbelievable acceleration. He should be an offensive threat for Canada.
Jason Spezza (C) – I wasn’t even going to put him in here because he looked thoroughly bored most of the time he was out there. But the fact is that he still is a dominant player when he got his head in it and made some great passes from behind the net. He will be one of the best forwards at the tournament.
Shane Bendera (G) – Showed very quick reflexes and covered the net well. He stopped a couple of breakaways and point blank shots. Could be working himself into the #1 spot.
Honourable mention’s could be given to Stephen Weiss, Jarrett Stoll, Michel Ouellet, and Duncan Keith. P.M. Bouchard is also putting in a strong effort but he will have to turn up the offense in the next couple of days if he hopes to make the team.
Brad Boyes and Steve Ott both played in the game and looked fairly healthy. It looks like they should both be fine and will make the team as planned. Boyes is recovering from mononucleosis and Ott from a stomach bug.
The goaltenders were not tested as much as would be expected but they all played well. Each is still in the hunt but so far I would give the edge to Bendera and Pascal Leclaire.
My predictions for the Thursday morning cuts are as follows: