As Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael try for two of the coveted spots on Team Canada’s 2020 World Junior squad, two of their teammates with the London Knights will be doing the same thing with Team USA.
On Monday afternoon, Knights defenceman and co-captain Alec Regula and London forward Jonathan Gruden received invitations to the final selection camp for the United States.
Both players attended the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., in August. Regula was unable to play because of injury but has been healthy all year for the Knights, has been excellent defensively and has also chipped in more than a point per game offensively.
The Chicago Blackhawks prospect has never played internationally for the U.S. In fact, he once stopped playing AAA hockey so that he could play high school hockey with his older brother. At that point, Regula was off a number of radars. He’s back front and centre and given his size at six-foot four-inches, his versatility and his season so far, he could play a significant role on the American blue line in the Czech Republic.
Gruden is a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators who is playing his first season in the Ontario Hockey League. He has an excellent skill set and a tremendous mind for the game, and under Dale Hunter, who will coach Team Canada at the tournament, Gruden has grown his game in all three zones.
The Rochester, Mich., native has extensive international experience, having played for Team USA at the Under-17s and Under-18 World Junior Championship. Gruden is a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators and is also averaging better than a point per game in his first season in the OHL.
The U.S. will hold their camp on Dec. 16 and 17 in Plymouth, Mich.
Team Canada kicked off their final selection camp on Monday in Oakville. Along with Mark and Dale Hunter’s involvement as general manager and head coach, London Knights equipment manager Chris Maton and Knights head of security Bob Martin are a part of Canada this year.
The Detroit Red Wings released Joe Veleno to Team Canada. He has been playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
Canada will wrap up their camp on Dec. 12 and announce their final roster.
Team Canada and Team USA will open the tournament against each other on Boxing Day in the Czech Republic.