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Standout Performance Earns Matthew Wood Spot On Canada’s WJC Roster

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Matthew Wood
Photo of Matthew Wood by Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff

Few would argue that Nashville Predators prospect Matthew Wood was one of the more talented players at Hockey Canada’s World Juniors selection camp.

So, it came as no surprise when the 18-year-old forward made the cut for Canada’s national junior team roster, which is set to compete at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship on Dec. 26.

Wood turned more than a few heads as Canada’s selection camp, punctuating the week with a captivating performance in back-to-back exhibition games against the USports all-stars on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he showed glimpses of what enticed the Predators to take him 15th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Wood scored Canada’s first goal in Game 1, and he later added an assist after firing a shot on goal that was tipped in by Philadelphia Flyers prospect Denver Barkey on a rebound.

“He just scores goals,” national junior team head coach Alan Letang said of Wood. “You give him a chance inside the hashmarks, around there, and he overpowers the goalie. It’s just what he does, so get him the puck inside the dots.”

Letang wasn’t the only one impressed with 18-year-old’s account of himself.

The Athletic NHL prospect analyst Scott Wheeler also noted several positive aspects of Wood’s game, which is still evolving 17 games into his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut, where he leads the Huskies in goals (7), points (12), shots (65) and game-winning goals (2).

“I hadn’t noticed [Wood] much in camp until he went short-side under the bar with a perfectly placed shot from a bad angle for the first goal of the first game against USports,” Wheeler wrote. “From there on out, he was consistently noticeable offensively and supported the play well.

“In Game 2, he was particularly noticeable showcasing his good hands and finding his way out of traffic with the puck and holding onto pucks past reaching sticks/in tight to his body. He needed to win a spot and was one of few who really grabbed it in a camp that was a bit of a mixed bag for most of the other players.”

Although Wood’s international experience is limited, his resume is pretty impressive. The 6-foot-4 forward won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, scoring seven goals and 13 total points in seven games, including a hat trick. He also won gold with Canada at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he scored two goals and five points in five games.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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