Canadian Coaching Staff Announced For U 17 Challenge

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CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada announced Wednesday the three head coaches and six assistant coaches who will lead the three Canadian teams at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Kris Knoblauch (Regina, Sask./Erie, OHL) will serve as head coach for Canada Red, Jamie Kompon (Thunder Bay, Ont./Portland, WHL) will head Canada White, and Marco Pietroniro (Montreal, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL), will lead Canada Black.

Gilles Bouchard (Normandin, Que./Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL) and Drew Bannister (Sudbury, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) will serve as assistant coaches for Canada White, Jamie Heward (Regina, Sask./Swift Current, WHL) and Serge Lajoie (St. Albert, Alta./NAIT, ACAC) will join Knoblauch on Canada Red, while Trevor Letowski (Thunder Bay, Ont.) and Ryan Oulahan (Newmarket, Ont./North Bay, OHL) will be behind the bench for Canada Black.

Kris Knoblauch, 36, has spent the past three seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters, leading the team to a berth in the OHL final this season. Prior to the joining the Otters midway through the 2012-13 season, he was an assistant coach for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice from 2007-10 before taking over as head coach from 2010-12. As head coach, Knoblauch lead the Ice to their third WHL championship in 2011 and the team’s first MasterCard Memorial Cup appearance since 2002. Drafted by the New York Islanders in seventh round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft (166th overall), he played one season with the CHL’s Austin Ice Bats. Prior to his professional career, Knoblauch spent five seasons with the University of Alberta from 1999-04, winning a national championship with the Golden Bears in 2000. He also spent four seasons in the WHL with Red Deer, Edmonton, Kootenay and Lethbridge from 1996-99.

Jamie Kompon, 48, just completed his first season as head coach of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks after spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks from 2012-14, winning the Stanley Cup in 2013. Kompon also spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings from 2006-12, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012. His coaching career includes nine seasons with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues from 1997-2006 as video coach and strength and conditioning coach, as well as stops with the AHL’s Baltimore Bandits and McGill University. Kompon served as video coach with Canada at the 2006 IIHF World Championship. As a player, he played two seasons of professional hockey in the ECHL with Hampton Road, Cincinnati and Winston-Salem from 1989-91 after four seasons with McGill University from 1985-89.

Marco Pietroniro, 44, has been the head coach of the QMJHL’s Drakkar de Baie-Comeau for one season. He coached Quebec at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and was also an assistant coach for Canada White at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Pietroniro spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the QMJHL’s Foreurs de Val-d’Or from 2012-14, winning the QMJHL championship in 2014. Prior to that, he was the head coach and general manager of the CHL’s Arizona Sundogs for six seasons from 2006-12. As a player, Pietroniro played 10 seasons of professional hockey with Brixen/Bressanone (Italy), Torino (Italy), Jacksonville (SuHL), Brunico SG (Italy), Milano (Italy), Idaho (WCHL) and San Angelo (SPHL). He also played three seasons with the QMJHL’s Draveurs de Trois-Rivières.

The 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will mark the second year the tournament will feature three national teams (Black, Red and White). From 1986 to 2014, Canada was represented by five regional teams: Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec and West.

“This is an exciting group of coaches who will be part of our under-17 program this season,” said Shawn Bullock, senior manager of hockey operations with Hockey Canada. “They have found success at the professional and junior levels, and have a wide range of experience within our programs. We’re looking forward to working with them through our summer camp and the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge to continue to develop the outstanding young talent our country produces.”

Canada’s national under-17 development camp will be held July 29 to Aug. 4 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, with 108 players attending. From the camp, 66 players will be selected to represent Canada at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel, will lead player selection for the camp, along with regional scouts Carl Bouchard (Quebec), Wade Klippenstein (West), Kevin Mitchell (Atlantic), Darryl Woodley (Ontario) and Barclay Branch (Ontario).

Camp invites will be announced in the coming weeks, as will a host city and schedule information for the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will bring together the top players in the world born in 1999 or later. The under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.

Since the first under-17 tournament (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,200 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 11 of the last 14 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014).

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