TORONTO (U Sports) – U Sports announced Monday a two-game exhibition series that will see a selection of U Sports all-stars face off against Canada’s National Junior Team prospects as they prepare for the 41st IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal (Dec. 26 – Jan. 5).
The games will be played at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau, home of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. ET and Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. ET.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Hockey Canada for what should be two very entertaining hockey games, and a continued partnership between our organizations,” said Graham Brown, chief executive officer of U Sports. “We all know how excited Canadians get every December about our National Junior Team. These games will provide great exposure for U Sports men’s hockey, and I know our players and coaches are looking forward this opportunity to shine on a national stage.”
Brett Gibson from Queen’s University will lead the all-U Sports squad into the two-game series as the team’s head coach. He will be accompanied behind the bench by assistant coaches representing all three U Sports conferences, including Mark Howell from the University of Calgary, Brad Peddle from St. Francis Xavier University and Marc-Etienne Hubert from UQTR.
Gibson, in his 11th year leading the Queen’s Gaels after taking over from NHL legend Kirk Muller, has also been selected as Canada’s head coach for the 2017 Winter Universiade in Kazakhstan. Named the OUA East and U Sports coach of the year in 2014, the Gananoque, Ont., native played four seasons in the OHL from 1996 to 2000 with Erie, North Bay and London.
“I am extremely excited to work with the top coaches and players in U Sport men’s hockey from across our country,” said Gibson. “The opportunity to help prepare our National Junior Team in their quest for gold, along with providing our U Sports players with a first class experience, will make for a great partnership.”
The 23-player U Sports roster, comprised of 11 standouts from the OUA conference as well as six apiece from the AUS and Canada West, will be announced in early December. The OUA contingent will have the opportunity to make their case for a spot on the Universiade squad.
The National Junior Team has faced U Sports competition on a regular basis in recent years in its preparation for the IIHF Championship, with most of those contests coming against a single university team or a selection from two or three programs. Last December, the U Sports all-stars – featuring the best players from across the country – split the two-game series with the Canadian hopefuls, claiming a 5-4 shootout victory in the first game.