Wotherspoon makes the cut
The call from Hockey Canada brass two weeks ago was one very much welcomed by Cloverdale’s Tyler Wotherspoon.
He was only too happy not to get a second call Thursday afternoon in Calgary.
Wotherspoon was one of 31 players named to the Hockey Canada Junior Team Selection camp, and for a few anxious moments after a practice and three exhibition games, he along with the other players at the tryout in Calgary were in their hotel rooms waiting to see if their phone would ring.
Only players getting cut would receive the call, and be sent back to their Major Junior teams. The rest were herded downstairs by the coaching staff, for their first official gathering as Team Canada.
Wotherspoon, 19, was among the group of 23 players chosen to head to Europe over the weekend, to begin preparations for the World Junior Championship (WJC) in Ufa, Russia Dec. 26 to Jan. 4.
“I was just playing my game,” said Wotherspoon from Calgary, when asked to assess his performance during one intrasquad game and two against a select team of university players. “After the three games, I felt pretty confident about the process.
“I was confident, but I thought it (getting cut) could happen. But I was happy with my play.”
Team Canada left for Finland today (Saturday) where they will practice and play a pair of pre-competition games before their first WJC contest Dec. 26 against Finland in Ufa. It will be over the next week that Wotherspoon will learn more about his role while in Europe wearing Hockey Canada’s red-and-white.
“I’ll play a regular shift, I’ll be a shut-down guy,” said Wotherspoon. “I will learn a little more when I talk to the coaches over the next few days.”
The six-foot-two, 209-pound defenceman has three goals and 23 points in 29 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
He was one of two players from Cloverdale at the camp. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings was also in Calgary, but was one of the players cut Thursday evening.
The two have a history of playing together, and were hoping to be teammates again in Ufa. They spent their years at the rep level with Cloverdale Minor Hockey on Pee Wee and Bantam AAA teams, then were teammates on the 2008-09 Valley West Hawks Major Midget squad.
“It was heartbreaking to see him get cut,” Wotherspoon said. “We’ve been through so much together. He played so well (this week).”
Canada is grouped with Russia, the United States, Slovakia and Germany in Pool B at the WJC. The top three teams in each of two pools advance to the playoff round.
The four pre-tournament games (two in Finland, two in Russia), four round robin games and all playoff contests will be televised live on TSN.