Morgan Messenger of the Yarmouth Mariners. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
Last year Morgan Messenger played in the CJHL’s prospects games that coincided with the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth. This year Messenger has the chance to wear a Canadian jersey at the event as he’s been invited to the Canada East selection camp taking place in Ontario.
Messenger is one seven players from MHL, and one of 66 players overall, invited to the selection camp, scheduled for Oct. 27-30 at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ontario. At camp the team Canada East hopefuls will play six intrasquad games, in addition to daily practices.
Messenger says he’s excited to have the opportunity to try and crack the Canada East roster. He says he worked hard over the summer to prepare for this season, doing a lot of work at hockey camps in Prince Edward Island where he worked with skating trainers and others. He also believes that having been selected for the prospects games last year had bettered his chances to be invited to the Canada East selection camp this year.
Messenger has definitely been on the radar of the CJHL (Canadian Junior Hockey League). Nominated by the MHL, last year he was on a list of 10 finalists from across the country for the CJHL Rookie of the Year. He was referred to as an offensive threat. It was noted that even though he missed part of the season due to injuries, he still managed to rack up 34 points in 36 games, which included 19 goals and 15 assists.
Prior to playing his rookie season with the Yarmouth Mariners he had also been drafted by the PEI Rocket, now the Charlottetown Islanders, in the QMJHL.
On the day the roster for the Canada East selection camp was released, Messenger had 10 points in 10 games played with the Mariners during this regular season, which included three goals and seven assists.
This is the second consecutive year a Yarmouth Mariners forward has been invited to the Canada East selection camp. Last year Colin Campbell was invited and local fans were disappointed that he didn’t make the team. Fans in Yarmouth also weren’t thrilled that last year’s Canada East team didn’t have any players on it outside of the Ontario leagues.
Messenger knows local fans will be hoping he makes the team so he can compete at the World Junior A Challenge, but he says he’s not concerned that this creates added pressure.
“I think they just want guys from around the Maritimes on the team,” he says.
Aside from Messenger, six other players from the MHL – the league the Mariners play in – have been invited to the selection camp. They are Michael Crocock (Summerside), Evan MacEachern (Pictou), Malik Johnson (Summerside), Jordan McNaughton (Truro), Jordan Kennedy (Miramichi) and John Mullally (Pictou.)
To see the entire selection camp roster click here.
The selection camp roster was chosen by Canada East head coach Ian MacInnis (CCHL), along with assistant coaches Mario Cicchillo (OJHL), Peter Goulet (CCHL) and Marc Lafleur (NOJHL) and team manager Derek Blais (Hockey Canada).
“The talent level in Canada’s five eastern Junior A leagues continues to rise, and it has made for some tough choices when putting together this camp roster,” MacInnis said. “We could not be more excited about the 66 players coming to Oakville, and we’re confident they’ll battle hard for the chance to represent their country and wear the Team Canada jersey in Yarmouth.”
Adds CJHL president Kirk Lamb, “The coaching staff, camp selection committee, and Hockey Canada's hockey operations staff have all worked extremely hard to identify and evaluate the best candidates across Eastern Canada that will give Canada East an opportunity to compete for gold in Yarmouth. This group of players represents some of the game’s top prospects, not just at the Junior A level, but in junior hockey across Canada.”
Yarmouth Mariners head coach Laurie Barron is happy to see Messenger included on the Canada East selection camp roster.
"We are very proud and excited that Morgan has been given this opportunity and we feel he has an excellent chance to represent the MHL and the Yarmouth Mariners at the World Junior A Challenge," he says. "Morgan is not only a great player but a remarkable student and a gentleman off the ice."
Messenger says it would be a great honour to represent Canada at the World Junior A Challenge, particularly since the event is being held in Yarmouth once again.
“It would mean a lot to be selected,” he says, not only because he plays junior A hockey in Yarmouth, but the event would be taking place just 40 minutes-or-so from his hometown of Centreville in Shelburne County. You can also imagine how excited the fans would be at the Barrington Arena during the Nov. 2 Canada East–Czech Republic exhibition game to have Messenger on the ice.
Whether or not Messenger makes the Canada East team he says this about the upcoming selection camp, “It should be a good experience either way.”
The Canada East selection camp roster includes:
• five goaltenders, 23 defencemen and 38 forwards;
• 28 players from the OJHL, 21 players from the CCHL, seven players from the MHL, and five players each from the NOJHL and LHJAAAQ;
• five players returning from the 2012 World Junior A Challenge
You can see the selection camp schedule by clicking here.