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Team Canada taking its lunch bucket to Buffalo

Jaden Schwartz admits this year's edition of the Canadian team at the world junior hockey championship may lack the pedigree of the previous two entries but it isn't exactly the Charlestown Chiefs.

"Obviously there are no Jordan Eberles this year or John Tavares or Taylor Halls," the forward from Emerald Park, Sask., said after the roster was announced Wednesday. "Everyone on this team has got talent, they've all got skill.

"Back home, I'm sure they are all one of the top offensive guys."

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The early word, though, on the team that hopes to avenge an overtime loss last January to the United States in the gold-medal game, is "lunch pail." That came from head coach Dave Cameron, although he added, "That certainly is not a negative."

Nine players were cut Wednesday morning to get the roster down to 22 and the plan is to hit opening night in Buffalo on Dec. 26 with a team that is sound defensively and will fore-check hard to make up for any offensive shortcomings.

The smallest players on the team are a pair of defencemen, returnee Ryan Ellis and Tyson Barrie, and Schwartz, all of whom are 5 foot 10. The biggest is 6-foot-5½ defenceman Jared Cowen, who weighs 227 pounds.

"We've got a lot of big boys on this team and that's always good for a good fore-check," Schwartz said. "We're big, strong and fast. This is a team that will put a lot of pressure on teams.

"We're going to work hard and if we make mistakes, we'll make aggressive mistakes."

While Schwartz, Cameron and others said the scoring burden will be spread among all the forward lines, it is expected that Schwartz, who plays for Colorado College, Brayden Schenn, from the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, and Cody Eakin of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos will be a little more equal than the others.

"I think it's a working-class kind of team with everyone working their tail off," said Ellis, of Freelton, Ont., one of four returnees from last year. "It will be just normal, Canadian kind of hockey."

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Cameron did not want to say who he expects the most from. "I'm going to rely on 22. We're not putting any pressure on anybody to say this is what you're going to do for this hockey club. It's all about team," he said.

Aside from scoring, the biggest question mark about the team is goaltending. None of the four goaltenders invited to the selection camp this week had a particularly good showing.

Some thought Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL had the best chance to be the No. 1 goaltender but he was cut Wednesday along with J.P. Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey League.

When asked why Olivier Roy of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Mark Visentin of the Niagara Falls Thunder of the OHL were the surviving goalies, Cameron said simply, "They were the best two."

The other players back from last year are Cowen, defenceman Calvin de Haan (Oshawa, OHL) and Schenn.





The biggest surprise among the nine players cut was centre Riley Sheahan of the University of Notre Dame. He had three points against a university team in an exhibition game Tuesday night but could not dislodge middle men Schenn, Sean Couturier, who is projected as the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Ryan Johansen and Casey Cizikas.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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