Manitoba well represented at Canada’s World Junior camp

Perfetti of Moose, Lambos of Ice lead trio vying for spots on national team

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Local hockey fans got a triple dose of good news Wednesday when homegrown defencemen Carson Lambos and Daemon Hunt and Manitoba Moose centre Cole Perfetti were among the 35 players to earn invitations to attend Canada's national junior team selection camp.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/12/2021 (261 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Local hockey fans got a triple dose of good news Wednesday when homegrown defencemen Carson Lambos and Daemon Hunt and Manitoba Moose centre Cole Perfetti were among the 35 players to earn invitations to attend Canada’s national junior team selection camp.

Lambos, a Winnipegger who plays for the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and Hunt, a Brandonite who captains the Moose Jaw Warriors, will be attempting to make Canada’s final roster for the first time. Brandon Wheat Kings blue-liner Vinnie Iorio of Coquitlam, B.C., will also be bidding for a spot.

Perfetti, a 19-year-old from Whitby, Ont., is one of three returning players for Team Canada. He has six goals and 14 points in 15 games for the AHL Moose after being chosen 10th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets.

Manitoba Moose centre Cole Perfetti.

“I just want to put my best foot forward and work hard and give myself the best chance of making this team,” said Lambos in a conference call. “I know it’s cliche, but that’s all I can really do.”

The18-year-old was in the midst of an all-star calibre season with five goals and 18 points in 19 games when he was sidelined by an upper-body injury in Swift Current, Sask., on Nov. 19.

He has missed four games since but vowed to be ready for the selection camp.

Winnipeg Ice defenceman Carson Lambos

“I think as far as the timeline goes I’m expecting to be ready to go when the time comes for that camp,” said Lambos.

The selection camp, to be held in Calgary later this month, will include practices and two games against a squad of U Sports all-stars on Dec. 11 and 12 before the team heads to Banff, Alta., for a training camp, Dec. 14-19. The tournament is slated for Red Deer and Edmonton, Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

Perfetti, currently tied for the Moose scoring lead, admitted to some mixed feelings about leaving for Alberta at this stage of the season.

“Obviously, my mind is here. This is my team,” Perfetti said. “This is who I play for and it sucks to have to pick up and leave for a month of the season, but that’s the beauty of this team. Everyone is happy for me to go. When they kind of found out, they were giving me hugs, giving me high-fives, dabbing me up, that kind of stuff and saying congratulations. They’re all so excited for me.”

Perfetti is not in a position to take anything for granted. Despite being the lone forward returning from last year’s silver-medal-winning squad, he has not been guaranteed a spot on the final roster.

“The skill is going to be pretty similar, maybe just a bit better, I’m not 100 per cent sure,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be interesting. I’m excited to go into camp and see how it all goes, the adjustments that I’m going to have to make to my game. It’s going to be a different play style. I’m excited to do that and looking forward to it.

“The last couple months here in Manitoba, having this pro experience is so beneficial for me going into camp and going into this tournament. My game is at a much better place than it was a year ago today. It’s exciting and I’m fortunate and thankful that I’ve had this opportunity to play here.”

Lambos, chosen in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild, was one of 11 defencemen to be called. Hunt, Minnesota’s third-rounder in 2020, is also off to an excellent start with seven goals and 14 points in 18 games.

“I’ve been lucky enough to wear the maple leaf and (be) recognized to play it for them a couple times but I think the world juniors is kind of a different beast,” said Lambos. “It’s just looked upon as kind of the gold standard of Hockey Canada. So I think I’ve kind of looked forward to this for a very, very long time.”

Perfetti is eager to play at Rogers Place, home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s gonna be crazy,” said Perfetti. “… I can’t think of a time I’ve ever played in front of that many people so I can’t really imagine what it’s gonna be like. I can’t wait. I mean, that’s what you live for as a hockey player. The whole country cheering you on, 20,000 people in the building… I think it’ll give you goosebumps the first time the crowd goes nuts or the first time you come out for the opening game and the building’s full.”

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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