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TORONTO – Joe Hicketts cant wipe the smile off his face. Ilkay Gundogan Germany Jersey . Growing up you always watch this tournament and one day you dream of playing in it and now the dream has become a reality, the Victoria Royals defenceman said on Saturday morning just hours after his spot on Team Canada was officially confirmed. He spent a good chunk of Friday night and Saturday morning on the phone with loved ones. It was exciting, the Kamloops, B.C. native said. I talked to friends, grandparents, my mom, dad, brother and they were all happy for me. Obviously, they believed in me the whole time, but to finally make this step, well, its huge. As recently as this summer, Hicketts could never have imagined hed be spending the holidays at the World Junior Hockey Championship. There always was that question in my mind of whether this was possible, said Hicketts, who at 5-foot-8 is Canadas shortest defenceman. Obviously, size was the biggest factor earlier in my career, especially at age 16 and 17. With getting injured last year (in October) and missing that extended period of time and then getting passed over in the draft, I didnt think this year would be an option for world juniors. Thats right, every NHL team passed on Hicketts last June after he posted six goals and 18 assists in 36 games. A torn tendon in his arm had limited his production and sent his draft stock plummeting leading to a heart-to-heart conversation with Victoria head coach Dave Lowry in early June. I tried to explain to him that it might be in his best interest to not to get drafted this year, as hard as it is on draft day to be sitting there and not being a part of it, it might be the best thing career-wise, said Lowry, who is an assistant coach on Team Canada. Did Hicketts buy what his coach was selling? Not really, he said with a chuckle. It was probably the worst conversation, but the best one at the same time. From that point on, Hicketts resolved that the only way to get himself back on track was to work. And work. And work. The biggest thing was I had to get back in the gym right after the draft, the 18-year-old said. I wanted to be the hardest working player for the rest of the summer. The gym wasnt his second home, it was where he lived. He lost weight (around 15 pounds) and body fat. He wasnt invited by Hockey Canada to the summer camp for world-junior hopefuls, but he just kept working. And Lowry, by the way, turned out to be right about the draft. After getting passed over, Hicketts was invited to the Detroit Red Wings development camp in Traverse City in July and fared well. Then he got to go to the teams prospects tournament in September and once again stood out earning a three-year entry-level contract. Having the option to go to Detroit was exciting for me, Hicketts said. Theyre known for developing their players and not worrying too much about where theyre drafted or if they are drafted at all. The hard work continued to pay off at the start of the current season and when Hicketts departed for Team Canadas selection camp he led all CHL defencemen in scoring with 38 points in 31 games. He understands, said Lowry. I think hes a realist. He keeps everything in perspective. What stands out most about Hicketts? Just his determination and his understanding that you have to get better every day. I think, with him, hes a resilient player. Curtis Lazar agrees. The Ottawa Senators forward, recently loaned to the Canadian junior team, got to go up against Hicketts during his days with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Well, I mean, hes a small, little guy, but people underestimate him, said Lazar. Hes shifty out there. Hes crafty with the puck. Before he got hurt last season I thought he was one of the best defencemen in our league, Lowry added noting that Hicketts represented Canada at the under-18 level at both the Ivan Hlinka tournament and world championship. Hicketts is now a key piece of the Canadian defence as the country looks to snap a five year gold medal drought at the world juniors. The group only boasts one right-handed defenceman (Capitals prospect Madison Bowey), but Hicketts, a lefty, has played the right side for awhile in Victoria. But what Canada head coach Benoit Groulx likes the most about Hicketts is his never-say-die attitude. You need that in a tournament like this: guys who have confidence in themselves and know even though theyre not the biggest or the fastest, they know that they belong in the tournament and they believe in themselves, Groulx said. Hicketts has always been a smart player. Thats how he doesnt just survive, but thrives in spite of his diminutive stature. And it seems like he has a good idea of what he needs to do to be successful at the world-junior level. I want to play fast and physical, but I want to jump in the rush as well, he said. I think you saw in the game against Russia on Friday that a lot of offence comes from the back end at this tournament and for me its going to be about managing the neutral zone and the defensive zone so I can maximize my time in the offensive zone. Considering the comeback campaign hes waged, it would be easy for Hicketts to relax a bit now. He was asked on Saturday if he thinks hes finally silenced the talk about his size being an impediment to success. Maybe, Hicketts pauses for a moment before a smile spreads across his face and he starts to laugh. But, I cant stop now! Hicketts keeps laughing before adding, Gotta keep going. Sebastian Rudy Jersey . Three days after falling to Hamilton, Abbotsford scored three goals in 53 seconds en route to a convincing 5-1 win over the Bulldogs Saturday in American Hockey League play. Blank Germany Jerseys . Orlando is to begin play in the MLS for the 2015 season. Kaka, who currently plays with AC Milan, is expected to be loaned out to his home club Sao Paulo for the upcoming season before joining Orlando for next season.HOUSTON - The first two times the Houston Texans had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, they chose quarterback David Carr and defensive end Mario Williams. Odds are that theyll use this years top choice on one of those two positions again. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is widely considered the best player available in this years draft. Pairing him with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt could give the Texans the best 1-2 pass-rushing punch in the NFL. The problem is that while Houston could use another game-changing defensive player, the need at quarterback is more dire. The Texans traded Matt Schaub in the off-season after a terrible year in which he was benched after six games. The Texans signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the off-season, but he probably isnt the long-term solution to their quarterback woes. Several talented quarterbacks in this draft have questions attached to them concerning whether they are cant-miss prospects worthy of the No. 1 pick. Considered the best of the crop are Texas A&Ms Johnny Manziel, Louisvilles Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles of Central Florida. Some worry that Manziels size will be a detriment in the NFL. Bridgewater had a bad pro day. Bortles has taken criticism because of his limited mobility. Manziel is somewhat of a folk hero in Texas after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012. Billboards imploring the Texans to "Keep Johnny Football in Texas" dot the freeways around Houston, and Manziel, of course, has said hed love to play here. Though the team is under different management than in 2006, Houston is unlikely to let public sentiment about not letting the homegrown player get away sway its decision. The Texans passed on former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who grew up in Houston and led the Longhorns to a national title, in favour of Williams the last time they had the first pick. Houston general manager Rick Smith did say this week his team would consider trading out of the top spot. "If we take the first pick, we know who we want," Smith said. "(But) we are obviously open to moving out of the first pick, if in fact there is an opportunity for us to do so and if we think that is in the best interest of thee organization. Germany Jerseys. " Five things to know about the Texans heading into the draft: LATE-ROUND QBs: If the Texans do use their first pick on Clowney, recent history has shown they could still pick up a solid (or better) starting quarterback later in the draft. San Franciscos Colin Kaepernick was chosen in the second round in 2011, and Seattles Russell Wilson was taken in the third round a year later. "I think theres an idea of a traditional quarterback that is successful in the NFL and I think those two examples are guys that dont necessarily fit the ideal mode. And I think theyve also given people some confidence that you dont necessarily need to have a traditional type of quarterback to be successful in our league," Smith said. CANT GET ENOUGH: Though Smith shied away from discussing specific needs of his team on draft day, he did acknowledge one thing. "There are two positions that I never think you can have too many of: corners and tackles," he said. NEW PROCESS: Smith is adjusting to new coach Bill OBrien after working on the draft with Gary Kubiak, who was fired in December, for the last seven seasons. "The opportunity to step outside of that comfort zone, and learn something, gives me a chance to grow personally and professionally," Smith said. "That was a fun part of it." NO LOVE FOR Defence: Williams was the last defensive player selected with the first overall pick when Houston chose him in 2006. Before that, the last player on that side of the ball to go first was Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown to the Browns in 2000. The Texans have overwhelmingly gone with defence in the early rounds, choosing defenders with 14 of their 17 first- and second-round picks since 2004. FINE WITH THE MOVE: This years draft was pushed back from its usual time in April to May because Radio City Music Hall was unavailable. Smith was perfectly happy with the change for at least this year. "To have the first pick, the extra time has been good," Smith said. "I think that I enjoyed the schedule and the rhythm of the draft in April and would probably want to see it moved back, but Im enjoying it the fact that its in May this year for our selfish purposes." Cheap Jerseys 2020Discount Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Throwback Jerseys Discount NFL Jerseys ' ' '