Three Norsemen Named to Team Canadaby Matt MacInnis | December 15, 2008, 9:34 AM ET
Three Vancouver Island Norsemen were named to Canada 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship team this morning. The number is particularly impressive when you consider that the team's most recent first round pick, Josh Bailey, is only not playing with the team due to prior commitments with another organization. Leading the charge is the much-maligned Angelo Esposito. It was Esposito's record-breaking fourth attempt to make the team and his only successful visit to the tryout camp. Esposito is expected to contribute to the offensive load and play significant minutes. Esposito was a somewhat surprising pick for the Norsemen organization in the 2007 SICHL Entry Draft when they selected him 9th overall. The team has historically shied away from selecting players with rumoured attitude issues, but felt confident with Esposito's game despite the critics. In 21 games thus far with the Montreal Juniors, Esposito has compiled 27 points including 15 goals. "We have always liked Espo and will continue to support him," said GM MacInnis. "We fully expect him to develop into a quality SICHL player. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised when they see his performance in this high-profile tournament." Jamie Benn, the 111th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, has also been pegged for the team and should see some ice-time alongside goal scoring prodigy John Tavares. The homegrown Victoria prospect has an impressive 24 goals and 21 assists in just 27 games this year with the Kelowna Rockets. Benn was scouted by GM MacInnis during Benn's first and only season with the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies. "Jamie just keeps getting better. We couldn't get over his consistent and constant improvement when we were able to see him play in his draft year. It's been nothing but good news since then, and we think Jamie is a real steal for us. This kid is going to be a scoring machine at the professional level," said MacInnis. The most surprising addition to Team Canada has to be Patrice Cormier. The 2008 second rounder plays a solid, well-rounded game and is likely on the team in a shutdown role. Cormier has had a stellar season with the Rimouski Oceanic, putting up 12 goals and 12 assists in 27 games thus far. "Cormier is going to be an important role player on this team, which is exactly how we see him fitting in with our club in 4-5 years. I don't think many people doubt he's an SICHL calibre player in waiting, he just needs to continue to develop and one day we should see him on our third or fourth line." Josh Unice, G, will also play in the WJC for Team United States.