Schneider and Guhle ready to represent Canada at World Juniors

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images Braden Schneider flashes a smile during a practice for Team Canada at Rogers Place in Edmonton during the 2021 World Juniors.

Braden Schneider and Kaiden Guhle took different paths to make Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Juniors.

Schneider, who is from Prince Albert and plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings, just missed out on playing for last year’s gold medal winning side but was able to earn his way on the blueline in his second and final attempt earlier this month at the selection camp in Red Deer.

“Last year was a big learning experience for me and I grew more than I ever would have had I made that team,” Schneider said during a press conference on Monday.

“I learned just what it takes to make this team. I had never been cut from a team of that caliber before and I knew that I had a lot more work to do and I had more room to grow as both a player and as a person.”

In making the roster, Schneider is the first Prince Albert product to suit up for Canada since Denis Pederson captured a gold medal at the 1995 tournament in Red Deer.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Wallator/Hockey Canada Images
Kaiden Guhle controls the puck during Canada’s World Junior selection camp in Red Deer.

Meanwhile, Guhle was able to make the squad in his first attempt as the Prince Albert Raiders defenceman became the first member of the WHL club to crack Canada’s lineup since Ian Scott and Brett Leason accomplished that feat two years ago.

“As soon as I found out that I was invited to the camp, I definitely dialed in my training and my skating to try and get as close to game shape as I could, especially since a lot of us haven’t played since March due to the (COVID-19) pandemic,” Guhle said shortly after being named to the team on Dec. 11.

“I just tried to be solid defensively and be physical during the camp. I tried to play my game and do what I could control to the best of my abilities. I didn’t want to be too flashy and be someone that I wasn’t out there.”

This year’s selection process was arguably the strangest in the history of Canada’s Under-20 program, as 46 players battled out for a spot for nearly a month in Red Deer and had to deal with a two-week quarantine midway through the camp due to COVID-19 cases.

“I think we all tried to use that time in quarantine as something we could all become better from as we went through that adversity as a team and responded to things properly,” Guhle said.

“The camp itself was probably the best tryout process that I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone that was there had a chance to make this team and I was happy to be a part of it.”

While Guhle and Schneider are both experiencing the World Juniors for the first time, Canada does feature six players (Quinton Byfield, Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens, Jamie Drysdale, Connor McMichael and Dawson Mercer) that competed at last year’s tournament in the Czech Republic.

“One of the biggest things that they’ve told us is just how important it is to come together as a group in order to have success,” Guhle said.

“Since we can’t go from room to room to hang out, we try to chat as much as we can when we have a chance to relax. That bond between us came together quickly, especially during our practices.”

Following a 1-0 exhibition win over Russia on Wednesday, Canada will begin their round-robin slate in Group A on Boxing Day as they will go up against Germany at 5 p.m. in Edmonton.

“I think everyone here is excited to get going,” Schneider said. “I don’t think it will feel real for all of us until we get on the ice and see the jersey from a different country across from us.

“I know we’re all looking forward to getting things started and everyone across Canada is looking forward to watching the games. We can’t wait for it (the tournament) to begin.”

Dach injured

Canada will be without the services of their captain for the entire tournament as Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach suffered a wrist injury on Wednesday against Russia.

The former Saskatoon Blades star left the game during the third period after making a hit in the neutral zone.

There has been no indication if anyone will be added to Canada’s leadership group, which includes Byram and Cozens as assistant captains.

Pre-Tournament Scores

Tuesday, Dec. 22

  • Switzerland 3 Austria 2 (Sebastian Wraneschitz (Vienna Capitals) – 25 Saves)
  • United States 3 Finland 2 (Cole Caufield (Wisconsin Badgers – Montreal Canadiens Draft Pick) – Two Goals)

Wednesday, Dec. 23

  • Canada 1 Russia 0 (Devon Levi (Northeastern Huskies – Florida Panthers Draft Pick) – 23 Saves)
  • Czech Republic 6 Slovakia 0 (Stanislav Svozil (Regina Pats Import Draft Pick) – Three Assists)

Round-Robin Schedule

Friday, Dec. 25

  • 1 p.m. – Switzerland vs. Slovakia
  • 5 p.m. – Germany vs. Finland
  • 8:30 p.m. – Russia vs. United States

Saturday, Dec. 26

  • 1 p.m. – Sweden vs. Czech Republic
  • 5 p.m. – Germany vs. Canada
  • 8:30 p.m. – United States vs. Austria

Sunday, Dec. 27

  • 1 p.m. – Finland vs. Switzerland
  • 5 p.m. – Slovakia vs. Canada
  • 8:30 p.m. – Czech Republic vs. Russia

Monday, Dec. 28

  • 5 p.m. – Austria vs. Sweden
  • 8:30 p.m. – Slovakia vs. Germany

Tuesday, Dec. 29

  • 1 p.m. – United States vs Czech Republic
  • 5 p.m. – Canada vs. Switzerland
  • 8:30 p.m. – Austria vs. Russia

Wednesday, Dec. 30

  • 1 p.m. – Finland vs. Slovakia
  • 5 p.m. – Switzerland vs. Germany
  • 8:30 p.m. – Russia vs. Sweden

Thursday, Dec. 31

  • 1 p.m. – Czech Republic vs. Austria
  • 5 p.m. – Canada vs. Finland
  • 8:30 p.m. – Sweden vs. United States

Playoff Schedule

Saturday, Jan. 2

  • 11 a.m. – Quarterfinal 1
  • 2:30 p.m. – Quarterfinal 2
  • 6 p.m. – Quarterfinal 3
  • 9:30 p.m. – Quarterfinal 4

Monday, Jan. 4

  • 5 p.m. – Semifinal 1
  • 8:30 p.m. – Semifinal 2

Tuesday, Jan. 5

  • 4:30 p.m. – Bronze Medal Game
  • 8:30 p.m. – Gold Medal Game