BRANDON — Josh Morrissey says he’s getting ready to become a Winnipeg Jets defenseman next season. Saturday night in Brandon, he was the best player on the ice as he led his Prince Albert Raiders to a come-from behind 5-4 overtime win against the Wheat Kings.
Morrissey still has a lot to do before he plays for the Jets. After all, he has this 2013-14 Western Hockey League season in front of him and very likely, he’ll have the the 2014 World Junior Championship to worry about.
On Monday, the Jets No. 1 draft pick last spring and the team’s No. 2 pick, Nic Petan, were named to the 25-man Team Canada selection camp roster that will begin training Dec. 12 at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Etobicoke, Ont.
The roster includes two goaltenders, eight defencemen and 15 forwards. Canada’s final roster for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmö, Sweden, will include 22 players, and will be finalized by Dec. 25.
Morrissey is likely to be part of it, but so too is the high-scoring Petan. As NHL players, both young men are undersized, but both are incredibly skilled and both players skate well enough to be forces in an international tournament on the big European ice surface.
It will also be a great opportunity for both players to experience an important tryout camp before they arrive in Winnipeg next fall.
“My goal is to make Winnipeg next year so obviously I want to continue to get better,” he said. “The Jets want me to get stronger and be a leader and that’s been important for me. I’m the (Raiders) captain this year and my job is to be a leader, more than I have been before. You hear a lot of times about guys getting sent back to junior becoming complacent. I’ve done everything possible to avoid falling into that trap. I’m trying not to take a shift off let alone a night off.”
Saturday night, Morrissey was outstanding. His team was playing its fourth game in five nights and the second of a back-to-back and the Raiders were the strongest team at the end. In the third period, Morrissey seldom came off the ice and logged nearly 30 minutes of icetime.
“That was a big win for our hockey club,” Morrissey said. “Tonight we came back from two goals down. Friday night we were down 5-0, 6-1 in the third and won 7-6 (at Regina) so it’s been two big comebacks for us. Those are the types of games you need to win in order to challenge in this league.”
Morrissey has certainly been challenging his opposition. Saturday night he scored a big goal to get the Raiders back in the game.
“We stepped up in the third,” he said. “That was our coach’s message: ‘We need guys to step up,’ and I think we did that. It was a huge win for our team.”
There is very little doubt that Morrissey will also be one of those guys who step up for Team Canada.