For the first time since 1999, three Vancouver Canucks draft picks could be lacing up the skates for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships as Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk have all been invited to Team Canada’s Summer Development Camp, which kicks off on Sunday, August 4th in Brossard, Quebec.
The Canucks trio were among the 20 forwards invited to the camp that will see the players spend two days of practicing in Brossard before heading to Lake Placid, NY, for three exhibition games beginning on Wednesday, August 7th against Finland. Team Canada will also face Sweden on August 8th and the U.S. on August 10th.
For Shinkaruk, this isn’t his first rodeo, he has been through the process before after being one of the last cuts (along with fellow Canucks prospect Frank Corrado) last December. This year, the 2013 first-rounder doesn’t just want to make the team, he wants to be one of the best players on the ice.
“At the end of the day it was up to the coaching staff on that team and they felt I wasn’t good enough to make it or didn’t fit it,” said Shinkaruk. “I felt like I had a good camp and gave myself every opportunity to make that team, but didn’t. I really want to be on it this year and when I get to camp I want to be one of the best players on the ice, that’s my goal for every camp I go to.
“I’m super excited. This will be the second time I have gone into World Junior Camp and getting the chance to make a team that will represent your country is a huge honor and it’s something you want to do. I’m excited for it and I will be ready for camp.”
Shinkaruk previously suited up for Canada at the 2012 World Under-18 Championships, where he posted eight points in six games, helping Canada to a bronze medal.
Also on that 2012 U18 squad was Gaunce, who, at the start of the 2012.13 season many had pegged as one of the 13 forwards to make the 2013 team, but a shoulder injury in late October derailed the first half of his season and the 2012 first-rounder wasn’t even invited to camp in December.
“You obviously want to get invited whenever you are up for a team, but I didn’t look at it as a negative,” said Gaunce. “If I did look at it as a negative I would have had a tough second half to the season last year because I would have been thinking what I was doing wrong and things like that.
“Obviously you get excited when you do get invited and I just want to play on Team Canada.”
For both Gaunce and Shinkaruk, this will be their last crack at making the squad, unlike Horvat, who has another year of World Junior’s eligibility left after this one.
“Every time you get to go and represent your country and try out for that team is every kid’s dream,” said Horvat. “I grew up watching it on TV, it’s a really big honour to be invited to the camp and I am looking forward to it.”
All three prospects grew up watching the prestigious tournament on TV, and all three look at one particular goal as a moment that stands out more than the rest.
“I think every kid that grows up in Canada watches that tournament and looks forward to it every Christmas,” said Shinkaruk. “Going back to that time Jordan Eberle scored with a just a few seconds left in the game against Russians is a memory that sticks out for me. To have the opportunity to win a gold medal for your country is a huge honor.”
“I like the year when Toews, against the U.S. in the semis, scored three or four times in the shootout,” said Gaunce. “And obviously when Eberle scored was a big moment. I think those two times stand out as my biggest memories.”
“We (Horvat family) always used to watch it, especially the New Year’s Eve game against the U.S,” said Horvat. “One of the biggest memories of the tournament for me would be Jordan Eberle’s goal with something like 5.6 seconds left on the clock.”