EDMONTON – Serge Lajoie, who last season lead the Ooks men’s hockey team to their 15th championship title, is hoping for similar success at the international level.
Lajoie, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s 2014 and 2015 Men’s Coach of the Year, has been named by Hockey Canada as an assistant coach for the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This marks the second year the tournament will feature three national teams (Black, Red and White). Lajoie will join Coach Kris Knoblauch (of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters) and assistant Jamie Heward (of the Swift Current Broncos) on the Red team.
This is Lajoie’s second time behind the bench at the U17 challenge. In 2014, he was an assistant for Team White, which placed fifth, losing to Sweden in the quarter final.
Canada’s national under-17 development camp will be held July 29 to Aug. 4 in Calgary, with 108 players attending. From the camp, 66 players will be selected to represent Canada. The date and location of the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge have not yet been announced.
· Lajoie is the only college-level coach selected by Hockey Canada for the under-17 tournament.
· Under Lajoie’s leadership, the Ooks men’s hockey team finished the 2014-15 season with a 26-5-1 record, and defeated the SAIT Trojans in the finals to win gold.
· 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.
Serge Lajoie, coach of the NAIT Ooks men’s hockey team
“This is an opportunity to work with some fantastic coaches and the best talent in the country at the under-17 level. Just as we ask players in the off season to prepare themselves, it’s not the off season for coaches either. The summer months are an opportunity for me to grow and challenge myself as a coach. I come back with new ideas and validation for what we’ve been doing at NAIT.”
Linda Henderson, director of NAIT Athletics and Recreation
“Serge is very deserving of his appointment with Hockey Canada. He is a proven leader in the development of student-athletes at NAIT which will tie in well with the under-17 players he will work with over the summer. Serge has great vision, knowledge, patience and understanding of what it takes to compete. He has demonstrated that each year within the ACAC, winning conference championships. NAIT will benefit tremendously from his professional development with Team Canada.”