Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scheifele gets 2nd shot at gold

Jets' pick cracks Team Canada junior squad

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Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele will get a second chance at a world junior gold medal.

The 19-year-old centre from Kitchener, Ont., Winnipeg's first-round pick in the 2011 draft, was named to Team Canada late Thursday after a three-day selection camp in Calgary.

Scheifele had been matched as a right-winger with a high-powered line that included centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and left-winger Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

When the Team Canada selection camp began, Scheifele was fifth in Ontario Hockey League scoring, having put up 21 goals and 48 points in 29 games for the Barrie Colts.

Scheifele is a plus-17 so far this season as his team leads its division and the league's Eastern Conference.

Also chosen to Team Canada Thursday was Scheifele's Barrie teammate and sometimes linemate Anthony Camara.

Last year, when Team Canada managed just a bronze medal in the tournament played in Alberta, an 18-year-old Scheifele scored three goals and three assists in six tournament games.

Expectations for Scheifele, who spent seven games with the Jets to start the NHL season in 2011-12, are higher.

Though some thought he was a mild disappointment at last year's World Junior, many scouts will be quick to point out that the WJC is normally a stage on which 19-year-olds excel.

Since that time a year ago, Scheifele has certainly become a more sturdy player, stronger and a little quicker.

"For us the biggest thing is that it's all part of the learning experience and the development," Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Free Press late Thursday. "People talk about him making the team last year and what he did or didn't do.

"It's all part of development. The only way that kids and young players truly get to develop is to get the opportunity to go and compete. Are there expectations, numbers in our head we hope he achieves? No.

"For us, it's knowing that he's playing a larger role on a bigger stage and knowing that the pressures are there. If he succeeds, that's great, but the numbers aren't the important thing. It's the experience you want for him."

Cheveldayoff said the temporary position change for Scheifele, who spent seven games with the Jets to start the last NHL season, is a show of faith.

"I think it shows his versatility," he said. "At different points, we've had to do that here when he was with us. At different points in time in his career, he's going to have to learn to adapt to different things."

Cheveldayoff said he is presently unable to declare Scheifele a player for the entire tournament because he's still uncertain what the rules may be if the NHL and NHLPA settle their labour differences in the interim.

But the GM did say he envisioned no trouble for Scheifele playing the entire tournament.

"We're not getting ahead of ourselves here," Cheveldayoff said. "All he can focus on is what's in front of him right now, this tremendous opportunity to represent his country. We're big supporters of Hockey Canada and the World Junior process, USA Hockey, too."

Defenceman Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg's first-round pick in the 2012 draft, is expected to be a part of Team USA, which holds its camp next week.

With final roster moves Thursday, Hockey Canada and the Team Canada coaching staff dropped eight players to get to their desired number of 23.

In all, the newest version of Team Canada will have six players returning from last year's tournament, plus a pretty key addition of Nugent-Hopkins, who was in the NHL all of last season.

The returnees are Scheifele, Huberdeau, forward Boone Jenner of the OHL's Oshawa Generals, centre Ryan Strome and defenceman Dougie Hamilton of the OHL's Niagara Ice Dogs, and defenceman Scott Harrington of the OHL's London Knights.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

halifax kids crack club c2

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2012 C1

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