Prince Albert Raider captain Mark McNeill got the call he was waiting for when the 19-year-old was notified he was one of 37 players being invited to Team Canada’s world junior selection camp next week in Calgary.
McNeill was one of the last cuts last year when he auditioned for the team and he has worked harder than ever this season to get another shot at the national team that will be travelling to Ufa, Russia, over the Christmas holidays.
The first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011 leads the Raiders in scoring this year, his fourth with the Western Hockey League club. McNeill has 12 goals and a team-leading 23 assists and is currently on a six-game scoring streak that has seen him collect four goals and four helpers.
McNeill appeared in both of the recent Subway Super Series games that had WHL stars facing a team from Russia and he scored one of the shootout goals in the game Team WHL won 1-0.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound McNeill is one of 11 WHL players invited to the camp with others including defensemen Matthew Dumba (Red Deer), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw), Tyler Wotherspoon (Portland) and Derrick Pouliot (Portland); goaltender Laurent Brossoit (Edmonton); forwards Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat), JC Lipon (Kamloops), Ty Rattie (Portland) and Colton Scissons (Kelowna).
Edmonton Oiler forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is also on the list of invitees, but he has to get medical clearance, after injuring his shoulder, prior to attending the camp.
Team Canada, which won the bronze medal a year ago, will take 23 players to the 2013 world junior event. McNeill will leave on Monday for the camp and miss at least two games – Dec. 13 in Regina and Dec. 14 at home against Kootenay – and should he make the final roster, he would miss as many as eight games.