Moose­heads well rep­re­sented, with McIsaac among them

Four Hal­i­fax team­mates on QMJHL ros­ter for two-game se­ries vs. Rus­sian all-star team

Truro Daily News - - Sports - THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

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.

JA­SON MALLOy/CHAR­LOT­TE­TOWN GUARDIAN

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.

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