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Undrafted Nico Daws fighting for spot in Canada’s world junior crease

Nathan Denette/CP

By Nathan Denette/CP

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Nico Daws had never played internationally, never participated in a single Hockey Canada practice and was passed over by all 31 teams at last June’s NHL draft.

So how does a goalie with that resume find himself on the cusp of making his country’s roster for the world junior hockey championship?

 Daws took a moment before answering.

“Honestly, I don’t really know.”

His eye-popping numbers over the last three months are a good place to start.

Daws leads the Ontario Hockey League with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage for the Guelph Storm, who sit second in the overall standings, after playing just 34 combined games as a backup over his first two junior seasons.

“I had a good summer,” he said. “I knew I had to have a breakout year and really prove that I belong.”

Standing in front of a Hockey Canada backdrop and sporting a crisp black hat adorned with a red Maple Leaf, Daws has certainly shown he does.

“It’s definitely an honour, something I’ve never done before,” said the native of Burlington, Ont. “When I got the call I was really excited. Hopefully I can make the team and continue.”

Daws is one of four goalies at Canada’s selection camp this week hoping to earn a spot on the 23-man roster for the under-20 tournament that runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.

 Olivier Rodrigue and Hunter Jones have a history with Hockey Canada at lower age groups and were both part of the setup this summer, but Daws and Joel Hofer are green on the international stage as the country prepares to take three netminders overseas.

“What we like about this group is they’ve trended really, really well from September to now,” said Brad McEwen, the program’s head scout. “They’ve all got extremely good numbers, they’ve got wins, their teams are all doing well. They’ve put themselves in a good spot.”

That’s true, but the crease is also Canada’s biggest question mark.

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