67′s Monahan, Graovac invited to WJC camp, Ceci snubbed

Sean Monahan liked everything about his first ever visit to Russia in mid-August for the Canada-Russia Challenge, so much so, in fact, he would like nothing better than to go back and celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Ufa, Russia at the 2013 World Junior Championships.

The first leg in that journey occurred Monday when the Ottawa 67’s superstar and teammate Tyler Graovac were among 37 players named to the Team Canada selection camp next week in Calgary.

Some how, 67’s defenceman (and Ottawa Senators No. 1 pick last June) Cody Ceci was passed over despite the fact he ranks second among Ontario Hockey League defencemen in scoring with seven goals and point-per-game numbers.

Ceci, politely, declined to comment on the snub.

“The Challenge was a cool experience and the people who organized it showed a lot of respect for the game and a passion for hockey,” said Monahan, with remarkable numbers of 12 goals and 36 points that had him among the league leaders until hit with a 10-game suspension November 23rd which means he might not get back in a 67 uniform until mid-January.

“Obviously, this is pretty special and I hope I can go over and do it again.”

Team Canada picked four goaltenders, 12 defencemen and 21 forwards and the group will assemble to play one intra-squad game and two exhibitions against Canadian Inter-University allstars before the team is picked after just three days of camp.

Monahan, who is viewed as a sure-fire top five selection next June, is one of five players eligible for the 2013 draft in a pool of talent that includes 13 previous first-round NHL picks with another six returning from last year’s team that won silver. He is also one of 10 1994-born players with Halifax Mooseheads star Nathan MacKinnon, another top five candidate, the lone 1995 birth.

“The team is deep but it’s my third year in the OHL and I’ve played the last 1 ½ seasons up against the top lines and top players in the league,” said Monahan. “So I’m going in with the intention of making the team.

“I honestly don’t know what my role will be. I might just be getting pucks out and playing a little more defensively and physical. I’ll do whatever.”

Graovac, meanwhile, is enjoying a break-through season at 19 years of age with 18 goals to rank 14th in the OHL despite missing seven games to injury.

He also holds the distinction of being the lowest draft on the roster, having gone to the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round in 2011 as No. 191 overall, a pick that now looks like a steal.

“I knew I had a chance,” said Graovac, who might find himself on the wing as opposed to his regular centre spot. “I mean I had had a couple of dreams about it. This is huge.

“I’m going out there to take advantage of whatever opportunity they give me. I’ll be a fourth-line grinder if they want or I can be a top six forward if they need me there.

”These are moments where you look back and think of all the setbacks you might have had and see all you went through and now this. I mean I grew up watching the World Junior tournament every year.”

dcampbell@ottawacitizen.com

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