Four Mustangs have been invited to Team Canada men’s hockey training camp for the FISU Winter Universiade in Kazakhstan.
In total, 40 players will be competing for 22 spots to represent the OUA, USports and Canada. The camp will be held in Caledon from Dec. 27–30, and will be overseen by Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson.
“Getting that call to go to training camp is a great honour for those guys,” said Mustangs men's hockey head coach Clarke Singer. “They're all great players and great people and I think they all stand a very good chance of making the team.”
The invited players are forwards Robert Polesello and Spenser Cobbold, defender Jonathan Laser and goalie Greg Dodds. Polesello, a second-year left centre, has four goals and seven points so far this season, while Cobbold, a second-year left wing, has two goals and four points. The duo make for a dangerous pair and have exhibited their offensive ability in a season that has seen the Mustangs lack in scoring.
“In my mind they're two of the best forwards in the league,” Singer said about Polesello and Cobbold. “They've got great speed, they've got great offensive prowess and they're a very important part of our team.”
Laser, a second-year on the team, has developed into one of the best defenders for the Mustangs and in the OUA with two goals and six points. He has become a trusted player on the blue line and a veteran presence for the young defensive core.
“Laser is probably one of the best defenders in the league,” said Dodds. “He's definitely our best. He's a young D in the league, but he plays minutes for us and he's really solid back there.”
Dodds, a fourth-year goalie, has continued his reliable play for the Mustangs this season. Despite an injury that left him out for the last few games, he’s been one of the best players on the team so far this season, standing in net for four of the Mustangs wins this season. Dodds is focused on getting back to full health and is determined to make Team Canada.
“I'm going into camp expecting to make the team. I don't think I'll be happy with anything less than that,” said Dodds. “I've just got to show up and have a good camp and let my play do the talking, and hopefully I end up on the final roster.”
All four players have excelled in what has been a rough start for the Mustangs. As long as they play their game and have a good showing at training camp, their talent should shine through to the Team Canada coaches. Although Dodds has high expectations for himself, hoping to earn one of two goalie positions, he has faith in his teammates as well.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in all of them,” said Dodds. “I think the sky’s the limit for those guys, and going into training camp, if they have a good week, you never know what could happen, so I'm hoping for the best for all three of them."
Having players fight for a spot on Team Canada for the Universiade isn’t an anomaly for the Mustangs. Mustangs are almost always invited to training camp, and Singer has coached the team for the past two tournaments.
“Western's always been well represented,” said Singer. “It's a great opportunity for those guys to have a chance to represent their country and their conference.”
If they make the team, they'll travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The tournament will take place from Jan. 30, when Canada plays their first game against the U.S., to medal games on Feb. 8.