The Massachusetts hockey team only has two games remaining before its semester break, which will stretch from Dec. 10 to Jan. 5 for UMass (8-6-0, 3-3-0 Hockey East Association), but Cale Makar might not get the opportunity to enjoy the extended layoff.
The Minuteman freshman defenseman is a likely candidate to represent Team Canada in the 2018 World Junior Championships, starting Dec. 26th in Buffalo, New York, which will consume the entire break period for UMass.
With the two tilts still on hand for the Minutemen, Makar hasn’t thought too far ahead about the yearly under-20 international tournament, but admitted that the idea of representing his country would be a great experience.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Makar said. “You get to put the Canada crest on, and when you put it on you realize all the players that have played before you that are playing [professionally] right now. It’s a pretty cool experience, so to think that I have the opportunity to do that again is pretty special.”
Team Canada won’t announce its roster selections until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, per a tweet from TSN insider Bob McKenzie. However, several analysts have already pegged Makar to make the cut.
TSN’s director of scouting Craig Button projected the Canadian lineup in late November and had Makar among the top four defensemen group for the Red-and-White.
Makar has represented Canada several times on the ice, with his most recent attempt coming this past summer when he donned the maple leaf for the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.
Despite those experiences, Makar recognized the World Junior Championship is an experience like no other.
“I think it would be [a] once in a lifetime [experience],” said Makar. “Being able to play…even though it’s in the [United] States, there are obviously going to be Canadian supporters out there…looking way ahead, hopefully if I make it. It’d be a really cool experience, and I’m not going to let it go past me, that’s for sure.”
The Canadians will look to dethrone Team USA — the defending champions — in the post-Christmas Day tourney.
Makar currently sits with one goal and eight assists in 14 games played for UMass.
Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.