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Gazette Premium Content Winkler has ‘small chance’ to crack Norwegian national team

BRIAN GOMEZ Updated: December 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

Scott Winkler has been a mainstay on Norway’s junior national team. He has dreamed of skating with the big boys, and now, an opportunity to prove himself has finally arrived.

“It’s a very small chance,” Winkler said. “But the chance is always there.”

The Colorado College right wing will skip next week’s trip to Minnesota State-Mankato to play at a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge stop in Slovenia, optimistic a productive showing could land him a spot at the world championships in May in Finland and Sweden.

A junior with four goals and 11 assists, Winkler leaves Sunday, and he starts competition Wednesday in a round-robin tournament with France, Russia and Slovenia that runs until Dec. 18. He plans to spend Christmas with his parents and his sister in Norway, then he’ll come back Dec. 26, when the No. 6 Tigers reassemble after an eight-day break for finals.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Winkler said, adding that Norway’s national team is “always pretty much set. It would be me and 10 other guys competing for one or two spots. … I don’t want to change anything. If I’m not the right fit for the job, I’m not the right fit. I’m not going to try to play a different style. Just kind of keep playing the way I have been.”

Winkler has shown no ill effects from the surgery he had last season to repair a tendon in his right wrist – an injury that sidelined him for 18 games. “He’s having a real good year for us,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “He’s a big forward that can skate. He can play a lot of minutes. He’s playing a lot of roles for us – a five-on-five role, a power-play role. He plays with energy. He has gotten better and better as the weeks have gone on this year.”

Owens called the Euro Challenge a “big deal” for Winkler, a third-round selection of the Dallas Stars in 2008 who strived with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the U.S. Hockey League before he came to CC. And Winkler isn’t worried about CC missing him, as well as Jaden Schwartz, who departs Saturday for the world junior championships in Canada.

“We have a really deep roster,” Winkler said. “Missing a couple of guys I don’t think is going to be a problem at all. We’ve got guys who have made their push.”

Contact Brian Gomez: 719-636-0256 or brian.gomez@gazette.com. Twitter: @gazettehockey. Facebook: Brian Gomez. For the Colorado College hockey homepage, visit www.gazette.com/cchockey. For the CC hockey blog, visit http://cchockey.freedomblogging.com.

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