EDMONTON – Joshua Roy could hardly have asked to find himself in a better situation in his first participation in the World Junior Championship (WJC).
If the trend continues, the Montreal Canadiens prospect will be on the wing of captain Mason McTavish and young sensation Connor Bedard on the Canadian roster when they open their summer tournament against Latvia on Wednesday.
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A position that many would pay dearly for, but above all a position that comes with no guarantee – a fact that the Quebec forward is far from ignoring.
“It’s a big challenge. They are two very good players, if not the two best hopes who are here at the tournament, ”he said after a 4-3 victory against Sweden in the first and only exhibition game of his on Tuesday. .
“I don’t worry about that. It’s not for nothing that I’m on the first line. Coach (Dave Cameron) liked how I trained. […] Dave said there was going to be a lot of changes, I shouldn’t take my job for granted. I worked for it and I will work hard to stay there. »
However, the three companions will need time to find their bearings. A few months have passed since their last significant game, and they are just beginning to tame their tendencies on the ice, the ones who started selection camp at the end of July.
While they didn’t necessarily shine brightly against the Swedes, they still all blacked out the scoresheet – Roy and McTavish with a goal each, Bedard with a power-play assist.
With a preliminary round that promises to be sparse – Cameron’s squad will face Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic before meeting Finland – they should be able to fine-tune the details of their game and their chemistry without too much hassle.
“I think it starts outside the rink, creating bonds of friendship, observed the Quebecer. That’s the important thing and what will bring chemistry to the ice. Workouts will also help. The further the tournament progresses, the better it will go. »
Of the three, Roy is the only one whose services had not been retained for the initial tournament in December. In the two games played before the competition was canceled, McTavish and Bedard had quickly established themselves as the central elements of the Canadian attack.
Last season’s scoring champion in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) may be starting a little behind the latter, but he has every intention of establishing himself as one of the spearheads of this offensive. In this regard, the experience of his two accomplices will certainly not harm him.
“The guys who were there help us a lot, and the coaches too, he argued. We have a lot of video sessions. It helps us understand what to do on the ice. We also had enough time to practice the different game plans in training. »
Surprise for Lefty
If Roy had his sights set on participating in this resumption of the tournament, Nathan Gaucher had not necessarily considered packing his bags for Edmonton when he showed up at the evaluation camp a few weeks ago.
The Anaheim Ducks’ first-round pick in the last draft wasn’t even one of 21 forwards invited to the team’s selection camp last December.
“I had little shivers when I heard the news, he said with a smile. Of course I was thinking about it, but in my head, I was going to make my way for the December tournament. I did well last summer and I knew I had left a good calling card, but I didn’t have too many expectations for this tournament. »
Gaucher is used on the left of Elliot Desnoyers and Will Cuylle on the fourth line, and his place among the 12 regular forwards seems a little more precarious. He will absolutely have to do well so as not to give Cameron the chance to prefer Zach Ostapchuk, who currently occupies the position of 13th striker.
« I will have to be an energy player, especially with Elliot and Will, » he concluded. We are big guys who can skate and create turnovers. […] There is so much talent here, there are no guaranteed positions. I have to prove that I have my place in training. »
Photo : Vincent L.-Rousseau/Sherbrooke Phoenix