(ISN) – OTTAWA (CIS) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the Canada West Universities Athletic Association announced Tuesday the team that will defend Canada’s gold medal in men’s hockey at the upcoming 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain.
The 27th biennial Games will run from Feb. 3-14, with the men’s hockey gold-medal match set for the final day of competition.
An all-star team comprised entirely of players from the Canada West conference will wear the maple leaf in Granada, led by six players from the defending CIS champion University of Alberta Golden Bears.
Since 1997, Canada has been represented at the Games in men’s hockey by each of the three CIS leagues on a rotating basis. Canada West teams have medaled in all three appearances, capturing bronze in 1997 (Muju-Chonju, South Korea) and 2003 (Tarvisio, Italy) as well as silver in 2009 (Harbin, China). The Canadian squad from Atlantic University Sport claimed gold at the most recent Universiade, reaching the top step of the podium in Trentino, Italy in December 2013.
The roster was chosen by the coaching staff, led by longtime University of Saskatchewan bench boss Dave Adolph along with associate coaches Mark Howell (Calgary) and Mike Sirant (Manitoba), video coach Spiros Anastas (Lethbridge) and team leader Todd Johnson (Regina). In addition to the six Golden Bears, five Calgary Dinos made the team along with four from the Saskatchewan Huskies, three Mount Royal Cougars, a pair of Manitoba Bisons, and one player each from UBC, Lethbridge and Regina.
“It is not easy selecting just 23 players from a conference of eight teams,” said Adolph, who will lead the Canadian team at the Universiade for the second time in his career after a bronze-medal finish in 2003 in Italy. “We presented our selection process to these student-athletes in September, and from that day forward they made the identification process very difficult. Having an opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf on your jersey is a lifelong dream for these players. We all know the expectations of representing Canada in hockey internationally, and we look forward to the opportunity and challenge.
“This year’s team will represent Canada West and CIS very well.”
The Canadian team is loaded with offensive firepower, featuring 10 of the top 13 scorers in Canada West and four of the top eight point-getters in the nation at the midway point of the 2014-15 season.
The top five scorers in the conference – Alberta’s Jordan Hickmott and T.J. Foster, Cody Cartier and Tyler Fiddler of Mount Royal and Calgary’s Elgin Pearce – have all tallied at least 20 points in the first 18 games of the season. The forward line-up also includes the 2013-14 Canada West rookie of the year in Calgary’s Chris Collins along with his teammate Kevin King and Alberta teammates Levko Koper and Kruise Reddick. Manitoba’s Jordan DePape, Cody Fowlie of Regina, Lethbridge’s Mitchell Maxwell and Saskatchewan’s Craig McCallum round out the forward group.
On the blue line, Canada will be in good hands with 2013-14 first team All-Canadian Jordan Rowley and the top defenceman in the conference from 2012-13 in Jesse Craige, both from the Alberta Golden Bears. Both are in the top four in scoring by defencemen in Canada West with 11 and 14 points, respectively. Calgary’s Kodie Curran has 18 points to lead all blueliners in the conference this fall, while Saskatchewan teammates Matthew Delahey and Kendall McFaull have been steady all season for the Huskies. UBC’s Neil Manning and Manitoba’s Luke Paulsen complete the defensive line-up.
In goal, the coaching staff named a trio of standouts. Calgary’s Kris Lazaruk boasts a nation-leading 1.38 goals-against average along with a .946 save percentage. Earlier this season, Lazaruk set a new Canada West record with a shutout streak lasting 275:03, and he shows a 6-2 record with just 11 goals against in eight games this season. He’s joined between the pipes by Dalyn Flette of Mount Royal along with Saskatchewan’s Ryan Holfeld – both of whom hold goals-against averages below 2.20 and save percentages in the .930 range.
“We wanted players that could skate well and compete at a high level,” said Johnson. “We feel we have enough versatility with size, strength, and speed to match up well with the rest of the field.”
In Trentino just 13 months ago, the AUS all-stars captured gold by defeating Kazakhstan 6-2 in the final following a 2-1 nail-biter over two-time defending champion Russia in the semi-final. The powerful Russian lineup included 11 players with KHL experience, nine of them skating in the league at the time of the FISU tournament.
In 14 all-time appearances at the Universiade tourney, the Canucks have tallied an impressive 13 medals, including four gold, three silver and six bronze. In addition to the titles won by AUS stars in 2013 and 2007 (Turin, Italy), the red and white was crowned in 1991 in Sapporo, Japan, while represented by the senior national squad, and in 1981 in Jaca, Spain, when the University of Alberta Golden Bears wore the maple leaf uniform.
Eleven countries will compete for gold in Andalusia. Canada joins Russia, Sweden, and South Korea in Pool B, while a three-team Pool C consists of Kazakhstan, Japan, and the United States. The host Spanish join Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and China in Pool A. The top two finishers from each pool and the two best third-place teams will advance to the quarterfinals.
The Canadians open the tournament on Feb. 3 when they face South Korea. Other preliminary games include Sweden (Feb. 5) and Russia (Feb. 7) before the medal round begins Feb. 11.
Canada (2013, 2007) and Russia (2011, 2009, 2005, 2003) have combined to win the last six FISU tourneys.
Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2015/index
2015 Winter Universiade website: http://www.granada2015.org/en/
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
Name University Elig. Hometown Academic Program
Dalyn Flette Mount Royal 4 Edmonton, Alta. Business Administration
Ryan Holfeld Saskatchewan 5 Leroy, Sask. Law
Kris Lazaruk Calgary 4 Edmonton, Alta. Arts
Jesse Craige Alberta 5 Edmonton, Alta. Physical Education & Recreation
Kodie Curran Calgary 5 Calgary, Alta. Arts
Matthew Delahey Saskatchewan 5 Moose Jaw, Sask. Agriculture & Bioresources
Neil Manning UBC 3 Nanaimo, B.C. Business
Kendall McFaull Saskatchewan 2 Rosetown, Sask. Engineering
Luke Paulsen Manitoba 2 Winnipeg, Man. Arts
Jordan Rowley Alberta 4 Edmonton, Alta. Business
Cody Cartier Mount Royal 4 Sylvan Lake, Alta. Business Administration
Chris Collins Calgary 2 Calgary, Alta. Arts
Jordan DePape Manitoba 2 Winnipeg, Man. Arts
Tyler Fiddler Mount Royal 4 Prince Albert, Sask. Business Administration
T.J. Foster Alberta 2 Slave Lake, Alta. Business
Cody Fowlie Regina 2 Airdrie, Alta. Continuing Education
Jordan Hickmott Alberta 4 Mission, B.C. Physical Education & Recreation
Kevin King Calgary 4 Calgary, Alta. Arts
Levko Koper Alberta 4 Edmonton, Alta. Physical Education & Recreation
Mitchell Maxwell Lethbridge 2 Magrath, Alta. Arts/Education
Craig McCallum Saskatchewan 5 Canoe Lake, Sask. Education
Elgin Pearce Calgary 2 Port Coquitlam, B.C. Open Studies
Kruise Reddick Alberta 4 Manor, Sask. Physical Education & Recreation
Team Leader: Todd Johnson (University of Regina)
Head Coach: Dave Adolph (University of Saskatchewan)
Associate Coach: Mark Howell (University of Calgary)
Associate Coach: Mike Sirant (University of Manitoba)
Video Coach: Spiros Anastas (University of Lethbridge)
Equipment/Athletic Therapy: Chris Linder (University of Calgary)
Equipment/Athletic Therapy: T.J. Mussbacher (University of Alberta)
TEAM CANADA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (all times local / 6 hours ahead of EST)
Tuesday, Feb. 3 (17:00): Canada vs. South Korea
Thursday, Feb. 5 (17:00): Canada vs. Sweden
Saturday, Feb. 7 (17:00): Canada vs. Russia
Wednesday, Feb. 11 (TBD): Quarterfinals
Friday, Feb. 13 (TBD): Semi-finals
Saturday, Feb. 14 (12:00): Bronze
Saturday, Feb. 14 (16:00): Final