With apologies to James Taylor: Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals.
Phillips scored twice as Canada defeated Finland 6-5 in overtime in a world junior hockey exhibition game Wednesday in Plymouth, Michigan.
“It’s tougher because it’s the middle of summer and you are thrown in with different line combinations and guys you have never before played with in your life,” said Phillips, by phone from Michigan.
“So passes and stuff might be a little off, so you focus on work ethic and compete level.”
This is part of the selection process that will decide Canada’s team for the 2018 world juniors this winter in Buffalo, New York.
Canada concludes with friendlies against Sweden on Friday and the U.S. on Saturday.
It was the first career game in a Canadian jersey for Phillips, the five-foot-six water-bug-quick forward who was never invited to U-17 or U-18 national team camps. That he would make his international debut at U-20 is unusual, but Phillips’ career hasn’t followed the norms, because he was earlier dismissed due to his size, before his hometown Calgary Flames took a sixth-round flyer on him in the 2016 NHL draft.
“There are so many skilled players on the Canadian team that you just have to get to the net and into position for rebounds and tap-ins,” said Phillips, who scored 50 goals for the Royals last season.
The final Canadian selection camp will be held in December.
The 2018 world junior championship is Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Buffalo. The 2019 world juniors will be hosted by Victoria and Vancouver.
ICE CHIPS: The Royals made a trade Wednesday with the Seattle Thunderbirds involving 19-year-old players. Coming to Victoria is five-foot-11 defenceman Anthony Bishop. Going to Seattle is depth forward Blake Bargar.
The biggest selling point on Bishop, entering his third year in the WHL, is his post-season experience. He has been to the Memorial Cup and was part of Seattle’s run to the WHL championship and appeared in 11 playoff games, including all six games in the final round against Regina. The native of Kelowna played 66 games for Seattle during the 2016-17 regular season with two goals and seven points. He played 40 games during his WHL rookie season with the Saskatoon Blades before being acquired by Seattle last September.
Bargar played 61 games during his lone season in Victoria, recording six goals and 10 points.