SHINKARUK LOOKING TO SHINE IN CAN-RUS CHALLENGE

Aug 08, 2012 - 09:21 MDT

Yaroslavl, RUS – The puck is set to drop for the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge as the Canadian and Russian juniors prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, and current Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk is looking to make a big impact.

Canada’s 28-member squad for the four-game series features nine players from the Western Hockey League who bring a variety of playing styles and talents to the mix, and who will no doubt play key roles in helping the team hopefully defeat their hockey archrivals.

In goal, Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings is one of three netminders who will suit up in the Canada-Russia Challenge.  The 19-year-old from Surrey, B.C., enjoyed a brilliant 2011-12 campaign for the Oil Kings, posting a League-best 42 wins to go with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 61 games to lead the Oil Kings to the best record in the WHL.  The Calgary Flames prospect then led the Oil Kings to a WHL championship while being named the MVP of the Championship series.  Brossoit will be looking to impress Hockey Canada’s brass in the Canada-Russia Challenge as a leading candidate for a spot on the National Junior team for the 2013 World Junior Championship.

On Canada’s blue line, the WHL is represented by four outstanding defencemen who were all selected among the Top 10 in the 2012 NHL Draft, and whom all bring different elements to the table.

Heading up the blue line brigade is Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips.  The 19-year-old from White City, SK, already has a lengthy history with Team Canada, having captained the Under-18 team on two occasions, played for the national junior team in 2012, and played for Canada’s Men’s National Team at the 2012 IIHF World Championship.  The second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray brings a strong all-around game, and is just as capable at moving the puck and generating offense as he is at defending his own zone.  A good bet to wear a letter for Canada, Murray brings tremendous leadership to the mix as well.

Injecting a healthy dose of speed and offensive flair to Canada’s blue line will be the job of Moose Jaw Warriors’ 18-year-old rearguard Morgan Rielly.  An electrifying skater, Rielly is always a threat when carrying the puck up ice and can cause chaos for the opposition’s defence with his speed, puck skills and knack for knowing when to join the rush.  Selected fifth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2012 NHL Draft, Rielly should be a fixture on Canada’s power play and help generate scoring chances from the back end.

Also expected to generate some offense will be 18-year-old Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.  A 20-goal man for the Rebels during the 2011-12 WHL season, Dumba boasts excellent offensive instincts, creativity and a big shot from the blue line.  As good as he is offensively, Dumba also brings a strong physical element to the team with his ability to dole out thundering hits.  The seventh overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild, Dumba will be a threat in the offensive zone, and will have the Russians thinking twice about skating through the neutral zone with their heads down.

With the Russians boasting some high-end offensive talent, Team Canada will look to a guy like Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings to shut them down.  The 18-year-old from Vancouver, B.C., has plenty of size and smarts on his side, and will play a key shut-down role for Team Canada.  Reinhart is a good skater for a big player, has terrific hockey sense and awareness on the ice, and can move the puck up ice efficiently.  The fourth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, chosen by the New York Islanders, Reinhart can also create offense with his booming shot and strong passing skills.

Up front, the WHL will be represented by four players, including Portland Winterhawks’ duo Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic along with Medicine Hat Tigers star Hunter Shinkaruk and Saskatoon Blades forward Lukas Sutter.

With many talented forwards at their disposal, scoring shouldn’t be an issue for Canada.  Expect Rattie and Shinkaruk to contribute plenty on the offensive side for Canada, with both players boasting a knack for putting the puck in the net.

Rattie, a 19-year-old from Airdrie, AB, is an offensive star for the Winterhawks, having finished third in the WHL scoring race in 2011-12 with a whopping 57 goals and 121 points for the Hawks.  A swift and agile skater with a great shot, Rattie’s best traits are his hockey sense and vision.  A second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2011 NHL Draft, Rattie should be able to help Canada’s power play in the series.  Having narrowly missed out on Canada’s national junior team last year, Rattie will be looking to turn heads with a strong performance in the Canada-Russia Challenge.

Shinkaruk, a Calgary, AB, product, also brings tremendous offensive ability to Team Canada, having netted 49 goals for the Tigers during the 2011-12 season.  A puck-handling wizard with excellent playmaking skills, Shinkaruk has a knack for finding open space, being in the right places on the ice, and finding the open man.  Compared by some to Patrick Kane and former Regina Pat Jordan Eberle, the 17-year-old Shinkaruk is expected to be one of the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft.

If energy and grit are what Team Canada needs, they need look no further than Leipsic and Sutter.

Leipsic, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, MB, may be smaller in stature, but is large on heart and compete level.  A strong skater with a tremendous work ethic, Leipsic battles hard and doesn’t easily give up on plays.  The 5’9” forward has a knack for getting under the skin of the opposition with his relentless forechecking and competitive attitude.  A third-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2012, Leipsic can also score, having netted 28 goals and 58 points for Portland during the 2011-12 season.

Sutter, a 19-year-old from Lethbridge, AB, also brings a strong work ethic to go with a physical edge that makes him very difficult to play against.  Like Leipsic, Sutter can drive opponents nuts with his hard-hitting, hard-battling style, and never shies away from physical play.  Having scored 28 goals for Saskatoon last season, Sutter can also chip in offensively.  The Winnipeg Jets’ second-round pick in 2012, Sutter will bring a sandpaper grit to Team Canada.

The 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge kicks off Thursday, August 9th, with the first of two games in Yaroslavl, Russia.  The series will conclude with the final two games in Halifax, N.S., next week.

WHL Players on the Team Canada roster:

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Born

Hometown

Club Team

Pro Status

Laurent Brossoit

6’3”

200

03/23/93

Surrey, B.C.

Edmonton (WHL)

CGY ’11 (6, 164)

Mathew Dumba

6’0”

183

07/25/94

Calgary, Alta.

Red Deer (WHL)

MIN ’12 (1, 7)

Morgan Rielly

6’0”

190

03/09/94

West Vancouver, B.C.

Moose Jaw (WHL)

TOR ’12 (1, 5)

Griffin Reinhart

6’3.5”

202

01/24/94

West Vancouver, B.C.

Edmonton (WHL)

NYI ’12 (1, 4)

*Ryan Murray

6’0”

201

09/27/93

White City, Sask.

Everett (WHL)

CBJ ’12 (1, 2)

Hunter Shinkaruk

5’10”

166

10/13/94

Calgary, Alta.

Medicine Hat (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

Lukas Sutter

6’1”

202

10/04/93

Lethbridge, Alta.

Saskatoon (WHL)

WPG ’12 (2, 39)

Ty Rattie

5’11”

169

02/05/93

Airdrie, Alta.

Portland (WHL)

STL ’11 (2, 32)

Brendan Leipsic

5’9”

175

05/19/94

Winnipeg, Man.

Portland (WHL)

NASH ’12 (3, 89)

For more on the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge and to follow Team Canada, visit www.hockeycanada.ca