By now, Nike or TSN should have familiarized you with “the knock” each of the 22 Team Canada players received the morning they were named to the final World Junior roster. The groggy thank-yous from the boys wearing inside-out and backwards shirts with a camera shoved in their face.
What many don’t hear about though, is “the call” nine players received as their cue to pack their bags and head for home.
The night before final cuts, players await in anticipation at the possibility of suiting up for their country in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. There is little – if any – sleep for hopefuls as nerves set in and emotions run high.
At 6:00 a.m. the phone calls begin.
Kitchener Rangers’ Ryan Murphy recalls what it was like to hear that early morning ring.
“I was rooming with Jared Cowen,” said Murphy. “And with him being the returnee, I knew it wasn’t for him.”
As Murphy did most nights throughout the duration of the selection camp he, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Johansen, and Casey Cizikas spent the evening together watching movies and hanging out in the hotel. Murphy had barely got back to his own room in an attempt to catch some shuteye, before the call came.
“I think I slept maybe 20 minutes,” he said. “Definitely would’ve much rather got the knock.”
The 17-year old was one of only four 2011 draft eligible players to be invited to the selection camp. He, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Ryan Murray were let go. Drummondville’s Sean Couturier made the final roster and remains as the only draft eligible player representing Canada at this year’s tournament.
Murphy is now back in Kitchener with his club team, helping the Rangers compete without the likes of team captain Gabriel Landeskog – who is with Team Sweden at the Junior tournament – and Tobias Rieder – with Team Germany.
“I’m rooting for Canada to bring home the gold,” said Murphy. “They’ve put together a really good team.”
The most surprising cut in Murphy’s opinion was forward Joey Hishon of the Owen Sound Attack who is one of his team’s point leaders.
“That was surprising,” said Murphy. “I thought he would be a top scorer.”
The gifted blueliner watches from home now as the team he was so close to making, competes against the best junior talent in the world.
“It was exciting just having the chance to try out,” said Murphy. “It’s pretty cool actually to be able to look at all those guys and say I played with them.”
Murphy uses this as motivation to return to camp next year and crack the line-up. The only hint of disappointment he offered about the whole experience was letting his family and friends down.
“They all went out and bought tickets for the games,” he said. “I feel like I let them down a little.”
Starting the New Year off on the right foot, Murphy has a lot to look forward to in 2011. The NHL Entry Draft, a probable playoff and Memorial Cup run with the Kitchener Rangers, and another shot with Team Canada.
Tieja MacLaughlin is a Journalist/Broadcaster with WLU Athletics, a Statistician for the Kitchener Panthers, a Creative Writing Intern with the Kitchener Rangers, and a Communications Intern for the Ottawa Senators.
Follow Tieja on Twitter: @tieja_mac