NCAA Hockey: NCAA player’s chances of making Team Canada

For many college-aged hockey players, the week coming up is a big one . The Team Canada 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship selection camp is set to get underway, and there are four NCAA players vying for a spot on the most followed Under-20 team in the world: Team Canada.

Taking a look at the four players who are hoping to dawn the maple leaf, there is a good chance we could see all four. They are Dylan Holloway from the University of Wisconsin, Alex Newhook of Boston College Jacob Bernard-Docker of the University of North Dakota and Peter Diliberatore. Newhook, Berard-Docker and Dilibertaore were drafted in last summer NHL entry draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Vegas Golden Knights respectively. Although all four have a solid shot at making the team, some have a tougher test than others. Here 49 ranks the players from 4-1 on their chances to make the team.

4: Peter Diliberatore: Quinnipiac University

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Diliberatore with Quinnipiac (NCAA.com)

Theres a reason why he is an invite to the camp, and that is because he is a very good two-way defenseman. He is very solid defensively and plays the game smart, but he also has scored in seven of Quinnipiac’s 15 games this season. He was drafted two years ago, but since then he has torn up the NCAA. In 2018-19 he scored three goals but had a plus 22 rating, good enough for fourth in all of the NCAA. another skill of his is defending with the stick, many players in this age group will defend with the body and develop stick skills later on, but that is not the case for Dilliberatore who is already elite as seen in the clip below.

This season, he has been a revelation offensively. In 36 games as a freshman, he registered 17 points in 36 games, and this year he has already reached seven points in only 15 games. At the time of writing, he sits with two goals on the campaign, right up against the three he scored last season.

So why might he not make the final roster for Team Canada? He is older, so that is an advantage, but he is fighting with some very good defencemen such as Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs and Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants. If he is able to make the team, it will be because of his stability defensively, not his offence, which is a role that Canada has covered with the two other aforementioned defensemen.

3: Dylan Holloway: University of Wisconsin

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Holloway in preseason action against the University of British Columbia (UBC Athletics)

The undrafted forward could really boost his draft stock if he makes the Canadian national junior roster. From Calgary, he is one of the rare power forwards found in today’s game. His father is former
Vancouver Canucksn Bruce Holloway who played for the west coast team in the ’80s, and was a driving force to get Dylan on skates at a young age.

He is a power forward, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t able to put the puck in the net. In 53 games for the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (Junior A), he scored 88 points with 40 of those being goals.

His success with the Oilers led him to catch the eye of the University of Wisconsin, who already boasts a very strong roster with NHL prospects such as Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) and Alex Turcotte (LA Kings). Playing with some of the best young players this season with the Badgers, he has brought his game to an even higher level and his making his case to make the team for the holiday time tournament.

Despite having all those accolades, he has not lit the NCAA world alight with offensive prowess. He has seven goals through fifteen games with the Badgers, similar to the numbers of the previous man on this list, who is a defender. There are also many very skilled forwards who are all but locks to make the team, so it looks like it is going to be a tough task for Holloway to avoid the cut.

2: Jacob Bernard-Docker: University of North Dakota

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Bernard-Docker in Senators prospect camp after being drafted (NHL.com)

This is where the list changes, as we now get to the two players who are likely to make the roster. Bernard-Docker is older than the other two players and is a 2019 draft pick of the Ottawa Senators.

He is currently in his sophomore season with the very well regarded University of North Dakota, the same school which bred NHL superstar Brock Boeser. Before moving below the border, he played with Dylan Holloway as a member of the Okotoks Oilers, outscoring him in there one year they played together.

The thing that makes Bernard-Docker different is his wicked slapshot. He was not able to use it very much when with the Oilers, but it has become a valuable weapon on North Dakota’s blueline. Although the slapshot is good, he has refined it in his second collegiate season to more of a snapshot; “It’s quicker and keeps the goalie guessing” he said to ESPN.

Like many of the other Canadian defensemen, he is very good at walking the blueline and transporting the puck on his stick. While his passing can sometimes go astray, his fast strides help him get the puck back in an imnstant.

At this point, he is expected to make the Canadian team, but nothing is official until the final day of the selection camp.

1: Alex Newhook: Boston College

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Newhook celebrates with his Boston College Teammates (Boston College Athletics)

There is no scenario other than the injury that could keep Alex Newhook off of Team Canada’s final roster come to the end of selection camp. He was drafted 16th overall by the Colorado Avalanche earlier this year, an amazing feat for a player who did not play in a top junior league. There were some rankings that proposed his stock as high as fifth overall.

He is now with the Boston College Eagles, who’s head coach Jerry York was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2019 induction class. Before moving to Boston, Newhook played his junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Victoria Grizzlies. The BCHL is regarded as the best Junior A league in the world,
putting him strides ahead of the previous two men who played in the Alberta equivalent.

In his single BCHL season, the only word that describes his single BCHL season is; Dominant. He put up 66 points in 44 games, all while balancing international tournaments on the side. His transition to the collegiate game with thew eagles has also been seamless, where he has put up 11 points in his first 13 NCAA games.

There are many scouts and hockey intellectuals who say that the game is trending towards “Speed and Skill” rather than gritty hockey. If that’s the case, then Newhook is your man. His playing style is the epitome of that mantra. His puck skills are fantastic and he is one of the fastest players in the NCAA. both these skillsets will be strong assets for team Canada this winter. He is also coming into this year’s campaign with a chip on his shoulder after being one of the last cuts from the final squad last year.

Newhook is going to be a very important piece for Team Canada if they hope to go far in this year’s tournament. There is no question that he will make the final team.

Cover Photo: Nike Canada

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