PROSPECTS PREP FOR WJC
By Jason Lockhart
The 2007 World Junior Championship may be five months away, but USA Hockey and Hockey Canada have already begun preparing for the event.
Canada recently held its World Junior Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta with Islanders draft picks forward Ryan O'Marra - chosen in the first round and 15th overall in the 2005 Entry Draft - and defenseman Dustin Kohn - chosen in the second round 46th overall in the 2005 Entry Draft - among the 44 players vying for 22 spots on Team Canada's roster that will be finalized at a Selection Camp in early December.
From July 23-28, Team Canada organized a development camp for its players, similar to that of the Islanders Development Camp held just a few weeks ago. The players were put through various on- and off-ice tests with the final three days focused around scrimmages.
"It was an excellent experience," said O'Marra. "The week was good preparation for the upcoming season. There was a lot of talent out there."
The players were divided into Team Red and Team White with O'Marra skating for Red and Kohn for White.
Game One was a low scoring affair with Kohn's Team White skating off to a 3-2 victory. O'Marra and Kohn were held scoreless.
Game Two picked up offensively with White edging Red 6-3. O'Marra slammed home a rebound on the power play with 8:14 remaining in the first period to get Red within one, but White took over from there scoring four of the next six goals including an empty-netter that Kohn assisted on.
The final game was a battle that ended in a Team White 3-2 shootout victory and a sweep of the three-game set. O'Marra assisted on Red's second goal, giving him two points in three games, while Kohn finished with one assist.
Team USA will host their 2006 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp from August 5-14 in Lake Placid, NY at the site of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
O'Marra hopes to make the team for a second straight year and reclaim the gold medal for Canada at the 2007 World Junior Championships held in Sweden from December 25, 2006-January 6, 2007.
Kohn, Okposo and Rakhshani would make their debuts at the event should they be selected in December. Rakhshani was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2006.
O'Marra ended the 2005-2006 season with the Islanders' AHL affiliate, Bridgeport. Kohn split time between Calgary and Brandon of the WHL. He also played two games with Bridgeport on a tryout basis. Okposo played last season for Clark Cup Champion Des Moines of the USHL and will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall. Rakhshani played for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program in 2005-2006 and will join Minnesota-rival, Denver, next season.