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Team Canada unveils roster for 2022 world juniors, headlined by Bedard and Power

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CALGARY — Canada’s junior men’s hockey team runs the gamut from seasoned pros to a 16-year-old.

Cole Perfetti, with over 50 professional games under his belt, and Connor Bedard, who becomes the seventh player to be named to the Canadian team at age 16, were among 25 players named Sunday to the 2022 roster.

Three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 14 forwards born between 2002 and 2005 comprise the host team for the world under-20 men’s hockey championship co-hosted by Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

‘The expectation is a gold medal.’ Here’s who will skate for it.

Forwards

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Connor Bedard, Xavier Bourgault, Mavrik Bourque, Will Cuylle, Elliot Desnoyers, Ridly Greig, Dylan Guenther, Kent Johnson, Mason McTavish, Jake Neighbours, Cole Perfetti, Justin Sourdif, Logan Stankoven, Shane Wright.

Defencemen

Lukas Cormier, Kaiden Guhle, Carson Lambos, Ryan O’Rourke, Owen Power, Donovan Sebrango, Olen Zellweger.

Goaltenders

Brett Brochu, Sebastian Cossa, Dylan Garand.

Soon, the quest for Gold begins

Canada opens the tournament on Boxing Day against the Czech Republic at Edmonton’s Rogers Place.

“It’s going to be a competitive team, we’re going to try to play fast, we’re going to be a team with a lot of energy, we’re going to be a team that initiates and plays with a lot of discipline,” Canadian head coach Dave Cameron said.

Bedard, a North Vancouver, B.C. product who plays for the WHL’s Regina Pats, joins Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1990), Jason Spezza and Jay Bouwmeester (2000), Sidney Crosby (2004) and Connor McDavid (2014) in playing for Canada’s junior team at age 16.

“It’s pretty crazy to hear myself with those guys,” Bedard said. “Dreaming of playing in this tournament, getting the opportunity at the age I’m at is pretty special.”

Forward Shane Wright, who was released from selection camp a year ago at 16, earned a spot on the team this time.

Choosing experience

Garand, Guhle and Perfetti return from the team that fell 2-0 to the United States in the 2021 world junior final in Edmonton.

“Canada’s always got a skilled team and a lot of good people,” Guhle said. “The expectation is a gold medal.”

The 2021 tournament was held without fans in Edmonton because of the pandemic. There will be spectators in Rogers Place for the 2022 event.

“You ask the returning guys, Cole and Kaiden, it’s definitely not the same without fans,” Garand said.

“Whenever you can play in a tournament of this magnitude on home ice with home fans and a sold-out NHL arena, it’s pretty exciting to think about. I think it’s going to help our team.”

Perfetti, Sebrango and O’Rourke bring a total of 160 games of American Hockey League experience.

The Ontario Hockey League didn’t operate in 2020-21 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perfetti and Sebrango returned to their AHL clubs this season.

Perfetti and Power won men’s world championship gold with Canada in Riga, Latvia, in June.

Cameron is the head coach of the Canadian team again 11 years after overseeing a squad that earned a silver medal in Buffalo. Canada lost 5-3 to Russia in that final.

Thirty-five players were summoned to selection camp in Calgary, but Sudbury Wolves defenceman Jack Thomson’s invitation was withdrawn because of COVID-19 protocols.

University of Michigan’s Johnson also didn’t report to camp Thursday because of COVID-19 issues, but was among the 14 forwards named to the 2022 edition.

A roster without NHLers — for now, at least

While no current NHL player joined Canada’s roster, Hockey Canada senior vice-president of national teams Scott Salmond has said that door remains open until Wednesday.

Canada plays Switzerland and Sweden in exhibition games Dec. 19-20 respectively in Red Deer followed by another pre-tournament game Dec. 22 against Russia.

Defenceman Vincent Iorio and forwards Zach Dean, William Dufour, Luke Evangelista, Jack Finley, Joshua Roy, Hendrix Lapierre and Ryan Tverberg were released Sunday. Defenceman Daemon Hunt was unable to continue due to injury.

“I don’t remember there being this many guys in previous camps that I was part of that had this many guys in the mix, which says something about Canadian hockey and the amount of depth we have here,” Cameron said Sunday before players were released.

“It makes our job a little bit more difficult, but those are the tough decisions you like. The more competition you have, the better it brings out of people.”

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Novak Djokovic shares message to Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina – Tennis World USA

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Novak Djokovic congratulated Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina on “an amazing tournament.” On Saturday, 23-year-old Rybakina fell just short of landing her second Grand Slam title. In the Australian Open final, Rybakina was up by a set before 24-year-old Aryna Sabalenka stormed back to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Six months ago, Djokovic and Rybakina lifted titles at Wimbledon. “@lenarybakina, amazing tournament,” Djokovic captioned his Instagram Story.

Djokovic congratulates Rybakina

Rybakina has now made Grand Slam finals in two of the last three Major tournaments.

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After winning Wimbledon and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open, Rybakina admits her confidence levels have increased and she now believes even more that she can win Grand Slams. “For sure, that’s the goal, to be in the second week of all the Grand Slam, to play finals.

I mean, now I have more confidence of course even after this final. I just need to work hard, same as I did during pre-season and actually throughout the years, be healthy, and for sure the results are going to come. I would say I’m trying to not think about expectations and everything.

Still after a great pre-season like this I was thinking I should show it on the court. Then, of course, the results are going to be there. First few weeks was not that great…but I think in the end it’s just confidence to go forward, to keep on working.

I feel now good physically also. I know if I’m going to keep on working, the results are going to be (good),” Rybakina said after the match, per Tennis Majors. Rybakina has proved over the last six months that she has what it takes to be a legitimate Grand Slam contender.

En route to reaching the Australian Open final, Rybakina defeated world No 1 Iga Swiatek. It will be interesting to see how will Rybakina do after a strong Australian Open run.

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Maple Leafs’ Murray dealing with ankle injury, Samsonov to start vs. Capitals – Sportsnet.ca

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Bo Horvat puts up four assists as Canucks top Blue Jackets – Sportsnet.ca

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