October 17, 2012, Kelowna, BC – A pair of Kelowna Rockets prospects have been named to their provincial teams for the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup to be held Nov. 1 to 4 in Calgary.
Forward Nick Merkley has been selected to represent Team Alberta while defenceman Joe Gatenby will skate with Team BC at the Challenge Cup, which will feature teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Merkley was the Rockets first pick (9th overall) in the 2012 Western Hockey League bantam draft. The Calgary native had an impressive rookie camp and has been playing with Calgary Buffaloes midget AAA team this season and has eight points in six games.
Gatenby was the Rockets second round pick (34th overall) this year. He is playing with the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets and has eight points in the team’s first nine games
The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup will feature the highest rated player in the Under 16 age category representing the four Western provinces of Alberta, BC Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The four team round robin format is the first step in the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence and assists the four Western Provincial Hockey Associations in evaluating these top prospects in this age group for the future high performance programs.
The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup is made possible through financial support provided by the WHL. The majority of players participating in the event were selected in the WHL Bantam Draft in June 2012 and many of these top year prospects will play major roles on WHL clubs in the seasons ahead.
The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup will feature two (2) games each day with the opening games scheduled for Thursday, November 1, 2012. The Gold and Bronze Medal match ups will be featured on Sunday, November 4, 2012.