By Paul Osborne, Guelph Tribune
Guelph Storm forwards Hunter Garlent and Jason Dickinson have joined Team Canada at the World Under-18 Hockey Championships. Garlent was a key contributor at the Under-17 World Challenge last year in Windsor and now Dickinson has a chance to make his mark as well.
“They’ll benefit from the quickness of the play,” said Storm VP and GM Mike Kelly. “Anytime you get to compare yourself to the top North Americans and Europeans it is a great opportunity. To get to the NHL they have to understand that it’s a global market. It will give them both incentive to push that much harder.”
Dickinson was originally named to the team with Garlent being a late addition to the training camp roster. The tournament starts this Thursday in Sochi, Russia.
“There will be between 100 and 150 NHL scouts in attendance” said Kelly, “so there will be as much scrutiny as they were under during the regular season. It is especially good for Hunter who missed so much time with his broken ankle, which he took awhile to get over.”
But when it was suggested this tournament might have the benefits of a long OHL playoff run, Kelly wasn’t so sure.
“They’re different like apples and oranges I think. Yeah there is intensity but it’s no replacement for going four rounds deep into the OHL playoffs, nor does it prepare you (for the NHL) as well as the OHL or CHL playoffs would.”
Still the experience will likely have a very positive affect on the players, especially from a leadership perspective.
“I saw Hunter with Team Ontario at the Canada Games last year and the World Under 17 World Championship and he became one of their go-to guys” said Kelly who saw Garlent really grow as a player because of the experience.
Being asked to play for your country on a world stage forces you to first compete for a spot on the team but then compete against the other elite players from your age group. Every game is magnified in a tournament format as players try to find chemistry with each other in a short period of time. The other huge benefit of playing in this event will be the memories Garlent and Dickinson will forge – memories that will stay with them forever.
From the Land of Oz….Kelly was still excited about the team’s draft after a week of reflection. “We knew we had to get bigger and we did” he said. “After taking (5’10” offensive defenceman Garrett McFadden) in the first round, we didn’t lose site of that. We didn’t just need to get a couple of big kids, we needed some monsters.” Only five of their 16 picks were under six feet tall. Five of those players: Scott Villeneuve, Gabriel Mollot-Hill, Aleks Rapp, Domenic Monteiro and Liam Buckley are over 6’2”. Villeneuve is already 215lbs and Rapp, 220lbs. Remember, we’re talking about 15 year olds.