Mooseheads well represented, with McIsaac among them
Four Halifax teammates on QMJHL roster for two-game series vs. Russian all-star team
Jared McIsaac is taking a practical outlook into this week’s CIBC Canada Russia Series.
The defenceman from Truro is one of four Halifax Mooseheads representing the QMJHL in a twogame showcase against a Russian all-star team. First game was last night in Charlottetown and the second is in Moncton on Thursday.
It’s part of the annual crosscountry tour that pits the Russians against teams from the OHL, WHL and QMJHL made up of players Hockey Canada is considering for the world junior team.
“I know it’s rare that a kid plays as a 17-year-old in the world juniors, but at the same time I’d still like to make a statement, I guess, that I can play that kind of hockey,” said McIsaac. “But I really just want to have fun with the process and take it all in.
“I’m not expecting a whole lot going over as an underager, per se. But I’m just hoping to play my best and build off what I’ve been doing here in Halifax. I feel like I’ve been playing good hockey as of late so I want to keep that going and have fun and see what the experience is like.”
Joining McIsaac on Team QMJHL are fellow Mooseheads defenceman Jocktan Chainey and forwards Bo Groulx and Arnaud Durandeau. Groulx is also 17 and Chainey and Durandeau are both 18, so they too are realistic about their chances to get a longer look from Team Canada.
The national junior team is typically heavy on 19-year-olds, with a handful of 18-year-olds and the occasional 17-year-old.
“You never know what could happen but just getting invited to that is a great accomplishment and it feels good when you know you get to be a part of it,” Durandeau said. “It gives you a lot of confidence that you can become a better player and now I just want to go over there and play my best.
“I’ve seen (Mooseheads captain Maxime) Fortier go two years in a row and you know they’re always big games. I’ve watched the games with the OHL and WHL teams this year. It’s always interesting to watch because it’s the best players in all the leagues.”
The series started in 2003 as an alternative to league all-star games and steadily evolved into a key evaluation opportunity for Hockey Canada.
Coaches and staff for the world junior team first get to know the country’s top players at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge but maintain a relationship with them through annual camps and other international events like the under-18 championships.
“I’ve played four events so far with Hockey Canada and it’s nothing but class,” McIsaac said. “They’re the best of the best and some of my greatest hockey memories have been with them, so I just want to take it all in and enjoy it.”
This series can be a prime opportunity for players who are late bloomers or who display that they can raise their game against world-class competition.
New Minas native Drake Batherson, a 19-year-old centre, is one example. He leads the Quebec league in scoring after only making the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles full time as an 18-year-old.
Lower Sackville’s Evan Fitzpatrick, a goalie with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, is also on the QMJHL roster. Players like them and the guys from the Mooseheads seem to be on the edges of Hockey Canada’s radar for this year’s national team, but that can change with a breakout performance against the Russians.
This year’s world junior tournament is in Buffalo, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Jared McIsaac, left, is seen during practice in Charlottetown, prior to last night’s game against the Russian all-stars. Canada’s juniors were even with the Russians at two games apiece heading into Tuesday’s action, with the WHL and OHL teams splitting their outings.