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Canada’s world junior hockey selection camp is getting some NHL flavour.
The Montreal Canadiens on Monday announced they were releasing defenceman Victor Mete to join the camp, which runs Tuesday through Friday in St. Catharines, Ont.
“We’ve made the decision … to give him an opportunity to participate in a very beneficial experience for his development,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told nhl.com.
“The world junior hockey championship is a very elite and very competitive tournament, and this can be a very rewarding opportunity for a young player.”
Mete, 19, surprised many by cracking the NHL team’s lineup out of training camp as veteran Shea Weber’s defence partner. The Toronto native and former junior standout with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights collected four assists in 27 games with Montreal to go with a plus-5 rating.
Mete, who averaged 14 minutes 52 seconds of ice time with the Canadiens, was among the first cuts at the Canadian junior squad’s selection camp last December.
Like Mete, Columbus Blue Jackets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and Philadelphia Flyers centre Nolan Patrick remain junior eligible but weren’t named to Canada’s camp roster last week. However, those NHL teams have until Dec. 19 to decide whether to loan them to the world junior squad.
A fourth-round pick by Montreal in 2016, Mete could be recalled by the team following the world juniors or sent back to London to complete his fourth OHL season, providing the Knights a No. 1 blue-liner they have lacked in their first 30 games this season.
Mete was playing more than 20 minutes with the Canadiens in October but had been a healthy scratch the past two games and only surpassed 14 minutes once in 13 contests in November. He did play 17:04 in his most recent game for Montreal, a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Dec. 5.
Thirty-three players ?— 18 forwards, 11 defencemen and four goaltenders will take the ice this week at the Meridian Centre before Hockey Canada trims the roster to 22 ahead of this year’s tournament in Buffalo from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.
Part of that process includes games against a team of all-stars from U Sports on Dec. 13 and 14 and then an exhibition game against Denmark on Dec. 15.
Canada will compete in Group A against the defending champion United States, Denmark, Slovakia and the Finns. Group B is comprised of Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and Russia, which defeated the Swedes for bronze last January.
The Canadians Canada lost the 2017 final to the United States 5-4 on a Troy Terry shootout goal at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Canadians twice held a pair of two-goal leads, including a 4-2 advantage with 16 minutes left in regulation. It was the third world junior title in the past eight years for the Americans, who announced a selection camp roster of 28 last week.
Canada has won 16 gold medals since the tournament officially began in 1977, but only one over the last eight tournaments.
The quarter-finals will be held Jan. 2 and the semifinals two days later. Medal games will be contested at KeyBank Center, with the bronze contest at 4 p.m. and the battle for gold at 8 p.m.