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Team Canada leans on BC blue-liners in Russia


UFA, RU (NEWS1130) –  Burnaby’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers will centre Canada’s top forward line, but it’s the contribution of BC boys on Canada’s blue line that could make the difference at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship.

West Vancouver’s Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Surrey’s Tyler Wotherspoon (Portland Winterhawks) will be the heart of Canada’s defence at this year’s World Hockey Championship, which opens on Boxing Day.

Rielly, a 2012 Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and Reinhart, selected in the same draft by the New York Islanders began their hockey careers together as minor hockey teammates starring on the same team at the Hollyburn Winter Club in West Vancouver.  The two actually met as four-year-olds at Hollyburn in their Cookie Monsters kids hockey program.  Wotherspoon starred in the Cloverdale minor hockey program, is a solid stay-at-home defenceman with the Portland Winterhawks who was selected 57th overall by Calgary in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The contribution of the three will be key with Canada missing star Everett Silvertips blueliner Ryan Murray.  The 19-year-old Silvertips captain and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in a game against Victoria on Nov. 16th, and is out for the year.

While there are four BC-born players on Team Canada’s roster, there could have been five.  Goaltender Laurent Brossoit, of the Edmonton Oil Kings who played with Wotherspoon in Cloverdale minor hockey, had an exceptional selection camp, but was one of the final and controversial cuts.

Team Canada opens the World Junior Hockey Championship against Germany Boxing Day morning. Game time is 1:30 A.M.