Final Preparations for Canadian Hopefuls

The 40 invitees to team Canada’s World Junior Championships selection camp will be on the ice for the first time today in Toronto, and the 18 participants from the Western Hockey League all played in their respective teams’ games on Friday night before flying to Toronto.

Forwards Quinton Howden (Florida Panthers), Cody Eakin (Washington Capitols) and Ryan Howse (Calgary Flames) all had multi-point performances in their final WHL tune-ups.

Howden scored two goals in the first period and added an assist in his Moose Jaw Warriors 6-4 win over Kootenay on Friday night.

“We want to go into the Christmas break with a bang,” Howden told the Moose Jaw Times Herald, “and this was a good start.”

Eakin, the Capitols 2009 third-rounder, scored both of Swift Current’s goals in a 3-2 loss to Kamloops. The 19-year-old center has 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 30 games for the Broncos this year. This will be Eakin’s second World Junior camp. Last year he was one of the final cuts.  He has been battling a torn hip muscle and an infected elbow the last few weeks.

“If you want to be a hockey player,” Eakin told the Kamloops Daily News, “you have to battle it.”

Chilliwack Bruins winger Ryan Howse notched his 21st and 22nd goals — both on the power play — in Friday night’s 4-3 victory over Lethbridge. The Flames took the Prince George, B.C. native in the third round of the 2009 draft.

Portland Winterhawks center Ryan Johansen (Columbus Blue Jackets) isn’t satisfied with just going to Toronto.

“My mindset is to make that team,” Johansen told NHL.com, “to be the top player on that team and to make a big impact for the team. I’m doing everything I can to prepare and make sire I’m at that top level.”

Columbus took Johansen fourth-overall last June and he is one of three top-five picks at camp — the OHL’s Erik Gubranson (3rd-overall, Florida) and Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn (5th-overall, Los Angeles) are the others.

Team Canada will take on the Swiss in its first exhibition game on Monday, Dec. 20.

Click here to see Canada’s full schedule.

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