For the second straight year, Brett Howden is heading to Hockey Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp.
The Moose Jaw Warriors captain is hoping that the end result is different this time around however after failing to make the national junior team last year.
“It’s very exciting,” said Howden. “This is a rare opportunity, so every player knows that they’ve got to take advantage of it as much as they can.”
There was 32 players in total invited to this year’s camp with seven players returning from last year’s silver medal winning team.
Howden is looking to represent Canada for the fifth time after previously wearing the maple leaf at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and three times with the national under-18 squad.
Having that experience, as well as a previous trip to this camp, will help Howden as he looks to secure a spot on the team.
“This World Junior team is a tough team to make, I saw that last year, it always a deep team, so it’s a very big honour (to be invited) and it’s very exciting for sure,” said Howden.
“It’s a quick camp, so you really have to show what you have and what you offer to the team. I learned that last year, they make the cuts and the team within days, so you’ve got to show what you bring in that short amount of time and hope for the best.”
The 19-year-old forward felt like he played it too safe during last year’s camp and didn’t push himself to make the team. He said that he won’t be making that same mistake this time around.
“I didn’t get out of my comfort zone, that’s one thing that I really want to try this year, get uncomfortable and really try to show what I’m capable of,” said Howden.
Howden has registered 11 goals and 27 points in 18 games this season with the Warriors.
The six-foot-three, 198-pound forward’s biggest attribute for the national junior team would be his versatility as his style of game works in both the top-six and bottom-six. Howden also has experience on the wing as well as his normal spot at centre.
“There’s a lot of skilled guys on the team, you look at the roster and there’s a lot of depth, so guys are going to have to be willing to play any type of role if they want to make the team,” said Howden.
As he prepares to head to the selection camp next week, Howden will have a familiar face on the coaching staff with Warriors head coach Tim Hunter serving as an assistant coach for the second straight year with Team Canada.
Howden said he’s spoken with Hunter about what he needs to do to make sure he’s on the team at the end of next week, “I’ve talked to Tim about how I should approach it and he’s been really good with me, trying to help me as much as he can, there’s only so much he can do,” he said.
The selection camp opens on Tuesday in St. Catherines, Ont. As part of the camp, they will play exhibition games against the U Sports All-Stars on Wednesday and Thursday, and then they will meet Denmark on Friday before the team is selected.
After the team is solidified, Canada will meet the Czech Republic on Dec. 20 and Switzerland on Dec. 21 in pre-tournament games.
The 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship opens for Canada on Boxing Day against Finland.