There were no surprises among the nine players released from the selection camp for Canada's world junior championship team on Tuesday.
Two defencemen and seven forwards got the axe in the first cuts to the 40-man camp roster.
Those getting the dreaded early morning phone call at the team's hotel were three members of the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League: defenceman Jesse Blacker and forwards Joey Hishon and Garrett Wilson.
Also cut were five players from the Western Hockey League: defenceman Brayden McNabb of the Kootenay Ice and forwards Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants, Ryan Howse of the Chilliwack Bruins, Brad Ross of the Portland Winterhawks and Linden Veh of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Veh is in the thick of the battle for the WHL scoring title.
Forward Reilly Smith of Miami University was also cut.
Another nine cuts are to be made Wednesday when the final 22-man roster will be announced.
"What I told them was 'Remember, you're all good players,"' said coach Dave Cameron, who expects to have a team of 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders. "We have to make tough decisions. It's never easy."
Owen Sound, which leads the OHL's Midwest division with a 21-9-2 record, got three of its top players back.
"It's not good for us, but it's good for our team in Owen Sound," said Wilson, a 25-goal-scorer this season. "Hopefully we can go back and have a long playoff run there."
Cameron and the Hockey Canada staff trimmed the roster after watching the players perform in two intrasquad games.
"It's definitely not a good feeling," said Hishon. "It's probably the first time I've ever been cut by a team, but it's hard to argue with Hockey Canada's decision with their track record.
"I'll be their biggest fan over Christmas. It was tough, the games were pretty scrambly and tough to show your stuff, but I can't make any excuses. I should have played better."
The cuts included both Toronto Maple Leafs prospects in camp - Blacker and Ross - as well as one of the three Montreal Canadiens hopefuls - Gallagher.
"There are a lot of positives I can take from this," said Ross. "I'm still young and I can try to make it next year. They're going to have a good team, and all the best to them."
The team elected to keep all four goaltenders for an extra day, although only two of Olivier Roy, Mark Visentin, J.P. Anderson and Calvin Pickard will make the final roster.
And they kept all four "underage" players: 17-year-olds Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Murray and Ryan Murphy and the just-turned-18 Sean Couturier.
Final decisions will be made after a game Tuesday night against a team of university players.
The world junior championship, officially called the IIHF Under-20 World Championship, begins Dec. 26 in Buffalo, N.Y.Report Typo/Error
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