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Mercer, Newhook a rare pair of Newfoundlanders as Canada's world junior selection camp gets underway

Luke Adam of Kilbride is the last Newfoundlander to play in the world junior hockey championship, having won a silver medal at the 2000 event. — File/Hockey Canada/Jeff Nash
Luke Adam of Kilbride is the last Newfoundlander to play in the world junior hockey championship, having won a silver medal at the 2000 event. — File/Hockey Canada/Jeff Nash

It’s been 10 years since a player from this province was at the camp, and almost three decades since two were invited at the same time

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The announcement earlier this month that Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts and Alex Newhook of St. John’s are among the invitees to the upcoming selection camp for Canada’s 2020 world junior hockey team ends a decade-long drought of players from this province trying out for the world juniors and marks only the third time that two Newfoundlanders have been tagged to take part in the same selection process.

The selection camp, which begins this evening in Oakville, Ont., will determine the Canadian roster for the 2020 IIHHF world junior championship, beginning Boxing Day in the Czech Republic. The camp runs until Thursday and incliudes a couple of games against a team of university all-stars.

The last time someone from Newfoundland and Labrador had a place at the pre-tourney camp was 2010, when forward Luke Adam of St. John’s went on to make the Canadian team that won a silver medal in an event co-hosted by Saskatoon and Regina.

Adam’s appearance actually ended another decade without Newfoundlanders getting a shot in selection camps. Before him, the last player from Newfoundland to try out for the Canadian world junior team was Bonavista’s Michael Ryder, who also made the cut and won a bronze medal in Skellefteå, Sweden in 2000,

Ryder’s world-junior turn ended a five-year run of Newfoundlanders at Canadian selection camps. Harold Druken of Shea Heights made the 1999 team and earned a silver medal in Winnipeg, That was after Danny Cleary of Harbour Grace attended the 1996, 1997 an 1998 camps, but was cut each time.

Nobody from the province had participated in camps in 1993, 1994 or 1995. However, the ‘90s still was a good decade for Newfoundlanders getting world junior opportunities.

In 1992, John Slaney of St. John’s and Chad Penney of Lab City both made the Canadian team that finished out of the medals in Fussen, Germany. It marks the only time two Newfoundlanders actually played on the same world junior team.

The previous year, Slaney scored the game-winning goal in a matchup against the Russians, a result that proved the difference in giving Canada the gold medal in a tourney that was, in those days, decided by round-robin standings.

Like Cleary, Slaney was invited to the Canadian selection camp three straight years. He hadn’t made the world junior team in 1990, but there was a Newfoundlander on Team Canada that year. That was Dwayne Norris of St. John’s, who was part of this country’s gold medal-winning entry in Helsinki.

While it has been 28 years since there were two Newfoundlanders at a selection camp, and there’s never been a case of it happening two years in a row, there would seem to be at least a decent chance it could happen next year. That’s because both Mercer and Newhook, with 2001 birth years would be age-eligible for the 2021 worlds.

Twitter: @teleybrendan


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