As previously mentioned by Cam in the Slovakia game recap, the defense for Canada has played a big part for this nation’s success in the past years.
It seems as if ever tournament, the backend does not weaken, even though the names are different. This season, the only returning blueliner is captain Karl Alzner, who was a final choice for Team Canada’s roster last year.
Alzner was the 6th/7th defensemen on a strong gold medal-winning corp in 2006-2007, which featured the likes of Luc Bourdon, Marc Staal, Ryan Parent, Kris Russell, Kris Letang, and Cody Franson. This year for Alzner, however, he will be the top go-getter and leader on defense for this squad.
Last year’s blueline roster is impressive, there is no doubt about it, but this tournament’s seven man shutdown crew will generate long-lasting names of their own. Starting with the top duo, Alzner will stable the defense with high-flying Drew Doughty. The Guelph Storm defensemen is a fancy, yet dependable, offensive defensemen that can add flare to this exciting team.
The London, Ontario native has yet to be drafted as he will be eligible is upcoming draft, and he will definitely be one, if not the top defensment chosen. Also, his trademark move is the spin-o-rama, does that not say a lot about this kid?
After the top two, Canada is still able to produce a similar shutdown-but-can-still-score tandem containing Seattle Thunderbirds’ Thomas Hickey and Kelowna Rockets’ Luke Schenn. Hickey, who was drafted fourth overall by L.A. (one ahead of Alzner), is easily the smallest player on the backend, but that’s when his speed and offensive prowness comes in handy. Coach Hartsburg does a great job pairing him with Schenn, in order to give Hickey space to jump up on offense and to utilize his abilities on the ice.
Schenn, who is one of the biggest players on the team, is also the other undrafted defensemen on the roster. His playing style has been linked to punishing defensemen Adam Foote and most recently, former teammate Shea Weber. With his dominating physical presence on the ice, he makes it tough for opponents to generate anything. Oh, don’t be surprised to see more Schenn big bodycheck highlights in the next few games.
The three other players rounding out the top seven allows Hartsburg to feel confident with his roster choices, while knowing that they can also produce for the team. Logan Pyett is the most dependable, as seen in both the SuperSeries and so far this tournament. Josh Godfrey, however, is the more obvious choice when Canada requires a powerplay point man, since this Kingston native is labelled as the next Al MacInnis. Just watch his shot, and you’ll understand.
PK Subban doesn’t have as much international experience, but when you beat out the likes of Keaton Ellerby and Ty Wishart to make the team, you know you have what it takes.
With the blueliners that Canada can put out on the ice, it’s inevitable that this nation will win. Although the competition is strong, the defense alone produces fear on opposing forwards. It’s been like that for the past three years, and it’s not about to stop.