CALGARY, Alta. – Working in partnership with Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has extended invitations to 100 players from across the country to selection camps in advance of the 2016 World Junior A Challenge.
In Leduc, Alta., 60 players will gather Dec. 5 to 8 to take part in intrasquad games and practices in the hopes of cracking Team Canada West’s final line-up. The Leduc Recreation Centre will host all scheduled games and practices in advance of the final roster selections for Team Canada West.
“Coaches from all five leagues representing Team Canada West assisted in identifying players which will make for a fast-paced, very competitive selection camp,” said Trevor Alto (White Rock, B.C./B.C. Hockey League), director of operations for Team Canada West. “The focus is on competition for the 22 roster spots; however, the staff is dedicated to providing each invitee every opportunity to not only put their best foot forward, but to also enjoy the opportunity to represent Team Canada West.”
Team Canada West players are selected from among the league’s five western Junior A leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
Barry Wolff (Kelowna, B.C./Coquitlam, BCHL) returns to Team Canada West, this time as head coach, alongside fellow 2015 Team Canada West assistant coach Mike Reagan (Flin Flon, Man./Flin Flon, SJHL), Marc Berry (Britle, Man./Dauphin, MJHL) and Rick Swan (Sherwood Park, Alta./Bonnyville, AJHL).
Forty players will vie for a spot on the Team Canada East roster when they report to selection camp at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., Dec. 3-7. The camp schedule includes three games – Dec. 4, 5, and 6 – as well as practices. Team Canada East’s coaching staff and scouts Jack Ferguson, Paul Currie, and Patrice Bosch will use the camp as a final opportunity to evaluate the prospects before selecting their final World Junior A Challenge roster.
“Our entire staff has done an incredible job executing our player identification and evaluation plan since the beginning of September by scouring the five eastern CJHL leagues and its 70 teams,” said Brent Garbutt (Nepean, Ont./Ontario Junior Hockey League), director of operations for Team Canada East. “With the number of talented hockey players to choose from, it made this task extremely difficult in selecting only 40 players to attend selection camp. However, our staff is thrilled with the players we’ve invited, and are looking forward to an ultra-competitive camp as we finalize this process with the selection of players to earn one of 22 spots to represent Team Canada East.”
Jason Clarke (Carleton Place, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) will lead the coaching staff for Team Canada East, supported by assistant coaches Jeff Flanagan (Dublin, Ont./Milton, OJHL), Marc Lafleur (Hearst, Ont./Kirkland Lake, NOJHL), Martin Dagenais (Embrun, Ont./Ottawa, CCHL) and Stefan Blanchet (Terrebonne, Que./Longueil, LHJQ).
The CJHL leverages its five eastern Junior A leagues – the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL), Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), Ligue de hockey junior du Québec (LHJQ), and Maritime Hockey League (MHL) – to select players to represent Team Canada East.
The 2016 World Junior A Challenge, which features two Canadian and four international teams, takes place from Dec. 11-17 at the R.J. Lalonde Arena, part of the Bonnyville District and Centennial Centre. Full-tournament ticket packages can be purchased online, and include all 13 games at R.J. Lalonde Arena.
But first, both Canadian teams will take part in pre-tournament action on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. MT when Team Canada West meets Team USA at the Cold Lake Energy Centre in Cold Lake, Alta., and Team Canada East plays Russia at the Clancy Richard Arena in St. Paul, Alta. Tickets to the pre-tournament games will be available at the door for $10; kids 17-and-under are free.
Team Canada West has won gold four times (2006, 2007, 2011 and 2015), captured a silver medal three times (2008, 2009 and 2012) and won bronze in 2013. Team Canada East has won four silver medals (2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011), and took bronze in 2008. Since the first event in 2006, more than 260 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament.