FRANCIS: Canada's players have persevered en route to Olympic opportunity


Like the USA, which released its roster on January 1, Canada has drawn heavily on players who are playing for KHL teams.

"Hockey Canada has once again left no stone unturned in putting this talented group of players together", said Chris Overholt, CEO and secretary general of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

The team will be coached by former Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins who is from Climax with one of his assistants being Saskatoon's Dave King.

Hockey Canada used three worldwide tournaments - the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup and Spengler Cup - to evaluate potential players, and waited until the completion of the World Junior Championship to reveal the Olympics roster, which doesn't include a member of the gold medal-winning under-20 team.

Ontario's Eric O'Dell played 41 games with the Jets in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons while also spending four seasons with their AHL affiliate in St. John's. "There'll be a gold-medal effort and there won't be one guy that puts that jersey that this isn't the highlight of their hockey career and the highlight of their family's career".

After seeing the hand Vegas and the Golden Knights were dealt to start their journey, and how they've responded, is it really that impossible to believe this rag-tag group of Canadians can't be competitive in the 12-team tourney starting February 15?

In fact, most fans shouldn't have troubles spotting players who may have played for their teams in the past.

More than 100 players participated in four pre-Olympic tournaments to help with the decision-making.

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The bulk of the National Hockey League experience comes from a half-dozen forwards.

Instead, Canada's lineup features former NHLers such as Mason Raymond and Gilbert Brule.

Canada is going with experience over youth as it chases a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in men's ice hockey.

Genoway earned All-American honors twice, leading UND to the NCAA Frozen Four as a senior.

The Canadian squad will open camp in 17 days in Riga, Latvia, where the team will spend eight days practicing and playing two exhibition games. "We've seen all our players", said Burke. I think people can relate to our team and that we'll be part of the Canadian fabric.

Finally the Golden Knights offered Leggio the walk-on spot and by the end of his second year he had emerged as Clarkson's starting goalie, playing in 25 games that season with an 11-9-3 record, a 2.57 goals-against average and a.913 save percentage. "I think you've got to embrace it and run with it and thrive from it".

"But for the players that are going there, they're playing for their country and it's still going to be a huge tournament, a lot of people watching and I think it's going to be a great tournament, even if the National Hockey League is not there".