This Monday, Hockey Canada kicked off their National Junior Team Selection Camp ahead of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship with 31 of the top junior hockey players from the Great White North in attendance. London’s co-captain Liam Foudy is in attendance for the second consecutive year, this time joined by Knights’ leading scorer Connor McMichael.
In his fourth season in London, Foudy is scoring at a career-high pace and continuing to baffle opposing defenders with a combination of speed and skill.
The 19-year-old was invited to Selection Camp last year, but was one of the final cuts to the roster.
McMichael currently leads the league in points and has twice been named the OHL Player of the Week. Prior to Thursday’s game against Peterborough, he had been on a 17-game point streak in which he had 17 goals and 25 assists. The Hockey News recently described him as the best junior hockey player in the world. His ability to single-handedly take over games would certainly be an asset to Team Canada in a tournament in which each game is twice as important as the last.
Knights’ General Manager Mark Hunter is the lead of Hockey Canada’s U20 Program of Excellence and his brother Dale will be behind the bench for Canada. Despite their role in the selection of the team, Foudy insists he did not find out about making camp through the Knights owners.
“We had to wait just like everybody else,” said the veteran forward. “They didn’t want to favour us.”
Twice winning five consecutive gold medals, from 1993-1997 and 2005-2009, expectations are always high for Canada. Again, possessing another highly-skilled crop of players, they will likely enter the tournament as favourites once again. Following a disappointing quarter-final exit last year to Finland, Foudy is confident Dale Hunter’s game plan will be able to lead the team to success.
“[We have to] follow the coach’s game plan,” stated the Scarborough native. “That’s the biggest thing, buying in to what you have to do to help the team win. I think if we do that we’ll have a good chance.”
McMichael, who despite being the OHL’s top scorer, is deployed in a variety of situations for the Knights, reinforced the importance of accepting the responsibilities given to him by the coach.
“Everyone can’t be top six scorers, you [have to] adapt to different roles to ultimately bring home the gold medal,” said the 18-year-old.
It is yet to be confirmed whether former London Knight Adam Boqvist, who is currently playing for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, will join Team Sweden for a second consecutive year. After impressing in a six-game stint in the NHL, the defenceman has continued to excel with Chicago’s farm team. One thing is for sure, his ex-teammates would rather he stayed in Rockford.
“I love the guy but I don’t really want to see him there because he’ll help out Sweden a lot,” joked McMichael.
Foudy also hopes Boqvist doesn’t get released by the IceHogs, but is looking forward to teh chance to reconnect with his former teammate.
“If he’s there, it will be great to see him,” said the Knights co-captain.
Should either of Foudy or McMichael make the final cut, it will be the tenth time in eleven years that at least one Knight has represented the green and gold for Team Canada.
Selection camp wraps up on the 12th in Oakville, Ontario. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship hits Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic from December 26th to January 5th.