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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Making the grade

The Canadian National Junior team made all of their cuts today and sent many aspiring hopefulls home disapointed. It was no surprise that goaltender Devan Dubnyk was sent home, but the exculsions of Ryan Stone, Eric Fehr, and Stefan Meyer may raise some eyebrows.

Stone, the WHL's leading scorer at the time he left for camp (he and Fehr now sit 2 & 3 respectively), may be the day's biggest surprise cut as he provides an excellent combination of intensity and scoring punch.

The starting goaltender will likely be steady Kootenay Ice veteran Jeff Glass, and he will be backed up by the Prince Albert Raiders Rejean Beauchemin. The Medicine Hat Tigers netminder Kevin Nastiuk was not apparently part of the team's plans despite an impressive resume.

''He (Sutter) just thought the other two guys maybe had a little better camp, but that's his opinion I guess. Hopefully these guys win gold," Nastiuk said. ''I thought maybe my background was a little better than some guys but those two guys are great goalies too and all the power to them,'' he continues.

Overall, the team has a large but mobile defense. The smallest member of the junior nats blueline is London Knight's Danny Syvret at 6'0 200 lbs. The forwards are deep in skill, as illustrated by the cuts of Stone, Fehr, and Meyer. With the likes of Nigel Dawes, Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry, Clarke MacArthur and Patrice Bergeron, the team will feature more than an adequate amount of character and depth to contend for the tournaments top prize. View the final roster here.

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