(BOISBRIAND, QC) It’s a Christmas tradition for a lot of Canadians.
“Growing up, I watched that every year,” said Varsity Reds defenceman Jordan Murray, of the World Junior Hockey Championship. “I dreamed of playing in it, but obviously, never had the chance. It’s a Christmas tradition in my house and it’s awesome to play against them.”
In what has become a mini-tradition for him, Murray has again been selected as a member of the U Sports Canada all-star team that will take on Canadian junior team hopefuls Monday night(8:00PM Atl.) and Tuesday(2:00PM Atl.), in Boisbriand, Quebec.
Murray was chosen to participate in a similar two game series against the national junior team prospects last year.
Varsity Reds forward Philippe Maillet is also a member of this year’s U Sports all-star squad.
“In junior, I played with Philippe Danault, who played on the world junior team(2013), so I watched the games,” said Maillet. “I didn’t have the chance to go to the training camp or anything like that, but this is a good opportunity and it’ll be a good experience.”
Maillet would’ve played in the series last year too, had he not been recovering from an injury.
The pair travelled to Boisbriand on the weekend, and the U Sports all-stars held a team practice on Sunday.
“You get treated, pretty much like the Junior Team,” said Murray. “Hockey Canada puts you up for the weekend, so it’s awesome.”
Along with the first class treatment, both Varsity Reds are looking forward to showcasing their brand of game.
“Just to go out and represent university hockey,” said Maillet. “I think it’s an under-rated league, so try to open people’s eyes. There’s some good players playing university hockey.”
Murray says he takes pride in preparing the junior team to compete against the world, and says the opportunity is a product of hard work.
“Honestly, it’s so cliché, but never give up on your dream,” he said. “I always got cut from teams growing up. I never made the Triple-A team until I was 17, my third year of midget, and if you really believe in something and you want it and work hard enough, it can happen for you.”
Of the 22 student-athletes chosen to represent U Sports, 21 played major junior hockey, so the talent level is high.
Last year, the university stars beat the prospects in the first of their two game series.
“The first game was good. We played pretty well,” said Murray. “We beat them in a shootout.”
Game two was a different story.
“They kind of took it to us,” remembers Murray. “They scored, like, five goals in six minutes, or something like that, but it was a great experience overall. It was cool to play against some of those guys, the junior team guys, then go ahead and watch them during the Christmas break.”
32 players have been invited to the national junior team’s selection camp, including two members of the Saint John Sea Dogs, and Moncton native Philippe Myers, of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
The 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship will be played in Toronto and Montreal, beginning Dec. 23rd.