Andrew Cogliano’s five-goal performance during this past weekend’s series with Western Michigan didn’t net him the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week award. But the sophomore did receive the ultimate reward for a young Canadian hockey player yesterday: A second straight bid to Team Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp.
After helping our neighbor to the north win its second straight and 12th overall gold medal at last year’s tournament in British Columbia, Cogliano was named to this year’s 38-man pool by Canada coach Craig Hartsburg.
“It’s obviously a thrill to be picked, and I had a pretty good time last year,” Cogliano said. “But even though I’m going to the camp, it’s going to be a tough time making the team.”
During last year’s tournament, Cogliano served largely as a role player, but he anticipates making a bigger impact this time around. In a more limited capacity than Michigan fans are used to, the sophomore notched five points, with a goal and four assists during Canada’s gold-medal run.
“Last year, I played a different role, playing on the third line,” Cogliano said. “I think (Hartsburg, an assistant coach last year) really liked the way I played and he’s the coach this year. He invited me to the summer camp, and I got really good feedback from them there.”
Despite the improvements he’s made over the course of a year, Cogliano knows his battles are far from over. Of the 38 players in contention for a roster spot, just 22 will be named to the team. Cogliano is just one of three players from American colleges.
Just training with quality players can be a mentally, physically and emotionally draining process, even before you make the team.
“(The selection process) is really tough,” Cogliano said. “It’s sometimes tougher than the tournament. It’s pretty intense, and you don’t want to see any of the guys you make friends with not make the team.”
Making the team is considered a top honor for young Canadians because the entire nation bonds over the performance of the team. While the tournament was hardly televised in the United States last year, Canada filled the rinks in British Columbia and sat around television sets watching games while eating holiday meals.
“Everyone in Canada at Christmas time watches the tournament,” Cogliano said. “Last year, it was in Canada and the whole country gathered around the team. Even when we play overseas everyone is watching. It’s a big thrill when everyone supports us.”
Should Cogliano make the team, he will once again miss the Great Lakes Invitational later this month. It’s also possible that he will miss this Sunday’s game at Notre Dame, because the selection camp begins Sunday night in Calgary.
While it was hard for the Wolverines to lose a goal scorer for the GLI last season, the larger issue was Cogliano’s play in the weeks after his gold-medal performance.
After playing solidly in the first half of the season, the then-freshman struggled to find his feet upon returning from the World Junior Championships.
How the championships will affect a player’s performance upon returning to Ann Arbor varies, but Michigan coach Red Berenson sees the international experience as an important one.
“We have kids who have left here with a lot of confidence and came back with no confidence,” Berenson said. “And some kids come back with a gold medal and play well. (At Michigan), we put together a team of elite players who receive the opportunity (to represent their country), and we’re affording them that opportunity.”
Michigan may also stand to receive an advantage in Canadian recruiting if Cogliano makes the team.
“Maybe Michigan will benefit from all this,” Berenson said. “Maybe Cogliano came to Michigan because (former Wolverine Mike) Cammelleri played on the Canadian team, and Jason Botterill went three years in a row. That might have helped some other kid make the decision to come to Michigan.”
Notes: Michigan’s two injured defensemen, senior Jason Dest and sophomore Jack Johnson, both sat out of practice yesterday. Dest dislocated his shoulder and Johnson suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury during Saturday’s game at Western Michigan.
Berenson said that Dest will likely sit out a month, and Johnson is day-to-day after X-rays on his shoulder were negative.