Former Victoria Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook earned rave reviews Wednesday night after scoring a goal and adding an assist for Team Red in a scrimmage at the Canadian world junior hockey team selection camp in Red Deer, Alta.
“[Newhook] has lots of speed, and good balance, and is strong with a good shot,” said Canadian head coach André Tourigny, in a Zoom call following the scrimmage.
“He is a two-way player who is really solid. And he has lots of energy and good spark.”
Newhook was on the second line of Team Red with Dylan Holloway and Jakob Pelletier. Tourigny labelled it the best line on the night for Team Red, in a 6-4 loss to Team White.
“[The line] was reliable and solid,” said Tourigny.
“It’s a really good line and a good option for us.”
The pairing of Newhook and Holloway was interesting because they are the only two skaters in camp from the NCAA, along with goaltender Devon Levi from Northeastern University. Both Newhook, from Boston College, and Holloway from the University of Wisconsin Badgers, are first-round NHL draft picks. Newhook was selected 16th overall out of Victoria by the Colorado Avalanche in 2019 and Holloway 14th overall this year by the Edmonton Oilers. Both are centres but Newhook got the middle Wednesday flanked by Holloway and 2019 Calgary Flames first-round draft pick Pelletier from the Val d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Kirby Dach of the Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals on a four-point night to lead Team White to victory.
All five goaltenders, including Dylan Garand of Langford, played Wednesday. But it was another goaltender that Victoria Royals fans know well from the B.C. Division of the WHL that was most lauded.
“Taylor Gauthier [of the Prince George Cougars] was really good tonight. I liked his presence,” said Tourigny.
The Islander Garand, who plays for the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL, is also having a strong camp. That means decisions will not be easy when it comes to the crease.
“Do you have a solution for me?” asked Tourigny, rhetorically, when queried about which three goaltenders will make the team.
“It’s a deep decision and we will sleep on that. It’s a hard decision. We have five good goalies in camp. There is full urgency when it comes to this position. We discussed it in the coach room following the scrimmage and it’s clear in our heads where we are headed.”
Tourigny did not divulge where exactly the coaches are headed regarding the crease. But Canadian fans will know soon. It is getting close to the moment of truth for Garand, and also Newhook. The 25-player host-team roster for the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation world junior championship in Edmonton is expected to be announced Friday. Canada opens on Boxing Day against Germany.
There will be a final scrimmage held tonight in Red Deer before the cuts. The Canadian team moves up to Edmonton on Sunday.