December 14, 2011

WJC U-20 Update: Toffoli and Ceci Get Cut

For the ninth year in a row, there will be no members of the Ottawa 67’s donning the Hockey Canada jersey during the holiday season. Unfortunately, Canada’s World Men’s Under-20 squad cut Ottawa defenceman Cody Ceci and right winger Tyler Toffoli on Wednesday morning.

There was some hope heading into today that the two had a legitimate shot. Both players survived the first round of cuts on Tuesday morning. Ceci impressed in the intra-squad games while Toffoli scored twice in Tuesday night’s exhibition game against the CIS All-Stars. It wasn’t enough, however, for head coach Don Hay and his staff. With these cuts being made, Brendan Bell is still the last 67 to represent Canada at the Juniors in 2003.

Five NHL first-round picks (Nathan Beaulieu, Brandon Gormley, Dougie Hamilton, Jamie Oleksiak and Mark Pysyk) will patrol the Canadian blueline. Scott Harrington of the London Knights, a second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, rounds out the top three pairings. Ceci may have been given a lot of consideration for the seventh spot on defence, but was beat out by another 2012-draft eligible defenceman, Ryan Murray.

The fact that a 17-year old Ceci beat out first round picks Duncan Siemens and Stuart Percy just to get to camp is beyond impressive and a pleasant surprise for Ottawa fans. Although he’s slated to be a first rounder himself in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and even though he’s big and talented enough to get a shot in the NHL next year, if Ceci returns to the 67’s, look for him to be a near-lock for Canada’s team in 2013.

Missing the team may have been slightly harder on 19-year old Toffoli, who leads the OHL in goals with 27. During the Subway Super Series, the Ottawa sniper played on a line with Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele of the Barrie Colts. The two Colts both made Team Canada and are expected to make up two-thirds of the top line, but it appears Canada didn’t want to keep the line together from a couple of weeks ago.

With wingers Brett Connolly of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Devonte Smith-Pelly of the Anaheim Ducks being loaned to Team Canada by their respective NHL teams, the odds were already against Toffoli. Niagara’s Freddie Hamilton, who had a hat-trick in the OHL vs. Russia game in Ottawa, also made the team as a right winger.

As disappointing as it is that no 67’s will be playing for the U-20’s host country, this year’s tournament shouldn’t be without it’s representation from Ottawa. Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic), Shane Prince (United States) and Michal Cajkovsky (Slovakia) are all expected to take part.

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