December 26, 2011

WJC U-20 Update: Prince Gets Cut

The Ottawa 67’s are going to have their top line intact for their next matchup, but it’s surely a small consolation for wingers Tyler Toffoli, cut from Canada’s World Under-20 squad last week, and Shane Prince, who was cut by the United States National Junior Squad last week.

As was the case with Toffoli and Cody Ceci being cut by Canada, the release of Prince by the USA has to be a hard pill to swallow. Prince could have been a key player on an American team looking to get back into the gold medal game this season, but instead found himself on the outside looking in.

While the United States typically lean towards NCAA players, this year would have given Prince as good a chance as any as a record seven CHLers were selected to represent Canada’s southern rivals. On the left wing, Prince lost out to Brandon Saad of the Saginaw Spirit. Saad started the season with the Chicago Blackhawks before being sent back to the junior ranks, so his making the team is not much of a surprise.

Last season, after being totally snubbed by team Canada and not even receiving an invite to camp, Toffoli responded by lighting up the Kingston Frontenacs with five goals in a 9-0 win. Fans around the OHL compared it to the situation in 2009 when Logan Couture, also with the 67’s, was snubbed and went on a torrid pace after the holidays. While Toffoli and Prince were actually invited to their respective camps this season, it’s entirely possible that missing out on the World Juniors could light a fire under them.

It’s not as though the tandem needs a fire under them. Toffoli is third in the league with 54 points while Prince, despite missing a considerable amount of time with a shoulder injury, is tied for 27th in league scoring with 36 points. If they can keep this rate, especially while other team’s stars are playing on the world stage, the 67’s will most certainly find themselves competing for the top spot in the OHL. Right now, Ottawa leads the Eastern Conference, still trailing London and Plymouth in the West by six and two points respectively.

Toffoli and Prince’s line mate for most of the season, Sean Monahan, is a World Junior hopeful for next season. The Brampton native is ninth in league scoring as a 17-year old and is regarded as a potential top pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Canada typically recruits 19-year olds, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Monahan get at least an invite. Ceci, unless he makes it to the NHL right out of the draft, is likely to make the Canadian squad next season after being one of the last cuts this season, also as a 17-year old.

Defenceman Michal Cajkovsky (Slovakia) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) will play in the tournament this year in Alberta. The three North American players are expected in the lineup when the 67’s return to action against the Kingston Frontenacs on December 28th. Here’s hoping that Ceci, Prince and Toffoli can continue their tremendous play from now until the end of the season.

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