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Huge crowds turn out for Canadian Juniors

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While the games were clean for the most part, the players held nothing back in their body checking or pursuit of the puck – with only a handful of games to show off their skills and commitment to head coach Brent Sutter. Coming into the camp Sutter said he was looking for team players that he thinks can handle an intense six-game tournament in the middle of their own busy seasons.

Skills are important, but Sutter, who owns, manages and coaches the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, is also looking for players that can play Canada’s trademark style of hockey, which is fast, defensive and physical.

The first intrasquad game took place on Friday, Aug. 12. Team Red scored one goal in each period to win 3-2 over Team White, while outshooting their opponents 38-26. The star of that game was Evan McGrath, a small centre from Oakville, Ontario who was drafted by Detroit in 2004. McGrath potted a goal and an assist in the first two periods. Teammate Steve Downie scored the second goal, while Blake Comeau of Saskatchewan netted the third goal short-handed, with an assist by defenceman Michael Funk of Abbotsford.

Team White’s two goals were scored by Andrew Cogliano of Woodbridge, Ontario and Aaron Gagnon of Armstrong, B.C., with assists by Benoit Pouliot of Ottawa; Guillaume Latendresse of Ste-Catherines, Ontario; Logan Stephenson of Outlook, Saskatchewan; and Wotjek Wolski of Mississauga, Ontario.

Team White came into Saturday’s game with a chip on their shoulder and dominated the first two periods with physical play in both ends. Team Red rallied in the final period from a 4-1 deficit and came close to tying the game several times in the final minute of the game to finish 4-3.

White’s star for the first period was Guillaume Latendresse who scored the first goal and assisted on the second, while Andrew Cogliano assisted on both goals. Benoit Pouliot scored the second unanswered goal.

White continued to dominate in the second period with Cody Bass of Guelph, Ontario picking up a misplayed puck and adding a short-handed goal to go up 3-0.

Red answered back in the final minutes of the period with Kris Russel of Caroline, Alberta shoveling a backhand past Team White goalie Pier-Olivier Pelletier of St. Louis, Quebec.

Red picked things up in the third period, holding off Team White and keeping the pressure on. Persistence paid off in the final 10 minutes of play when North Vancouver’s Gilbert Brule scored, assisted by Liam Reddox of Whitby, Ontario. In the final minutes Bryan Little of Cambridge, Ontario made it 4-3, assisted by Michael Funk.