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Langford's Garand looking to "finish the job" as he heads Canadian world junior camp

The job is pretty much Dylan Garand’s to lose. The Langford product was named ­Wednesday as the heir apparent to the crease for Canada at the 2022 world junior hockey championship beginning this month in Edmonton and Red Deer.

Garand is among only three returnees from the 2021 silver-medallist Canadian team. The others are defenceman Kaiden Guhle, of the Edmonton Oil Kings as of Wednesday following a WHL trade from the Prince Albert Raiders, and forward Cole Perfetti of the pro Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

“We’ll be looking to finish the job this year,” said Garand, referring to the loss to the U.S. in the 2021 championship game.

“We got the experience of last year and all the attention this tournament gets in Canada.”

And that was without fans in the stands due to the pandemic.

“We are going to be so pumped this time around to be playing in an NHL rink [Edmonton] that is full,” said Garand.

The Juan de Fuca minor hockey product is highly likely to be the starter in goal for Canada after winning silver at the 2021 world juniors as back-up to Devon Levi of Northeastern ­University of the NCAA, who has aged out of the Under-20 level. But Garand is taking ­nothing for granted.

“There is still a lot work to do and a lot of work ahead of me. I’ve got to keep going and working hard [to earn the No. 1 position in the crease],” said the Islander.

The New York Rangers prospect will be challenged for the top Team Canada crease spot in camp by first-round Detroit Red Wings draft pick Sebastian Cossa of the Oil Kings and Brett Brochu of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

They were among the 35 players — three goaltenders, 11 defencemen and 21 forwards — named to the Canadian selection camp Dec. 8-12 in Calgary, concluding with two games against a U Sports all-star team, before the pre-worlds training camp in Banff from Dec. 14 to 19. Canada will open the world tournament on Boxing Day against the Czech Republic.

“A lot of effort has gone in to selecting 35 athletes who have a chance to represent Canada at the 2022 IIHF world junior championship, and we expect to make some difficult decisions when it comes to selecting a final roster,” said Scott Salmond of Creston, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada, in a statement.

“It is always an honour to represent Canada on the world stage, and even more so when you can do it on home ice.”

Fifteen WHL players have been selected for the tryout camp. They include four players from the Oil Kings and two each from the Brandon Wheat Kings, Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers, the latter including Garand. There is one player each from the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats, Spokane Chiefs, Vancouver Giants and Winnipeg Ice as nine of the 22 WHL teams are represented in camp. The Victoria Royals are among the 13 WHL clubs who will not have a player in camp.

There are six B.C. players selected to attend – Garand, Vincent Iorio of Coquitlam and the Wheat Kings, Connor Bedard of North Vancouver and the Pats, Kelowna-native Jack Finley of the Chiefs, Justin Sourdif of Surrey and the Giants and hometown Kamloops product Logan Stankoven of the Blazers.

Meanwhile, Garand was named WHL goaltender of the month for November by going 7-1 for the Blazers with a downright stingy 1.25 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage. There was one shutout in the mix, the 10th of his career, and it came in his hometown against the Victoria Royals on Nov. 5.

“It’s an important year for us [Blazers] and I think we have a lot of potential as a team,” said Garand.