Hockey Canada names six WHL Alumni to roster for 2018 Olympic Winter Games

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Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) have announced the names of the 25 players nominated to represent Team Canada in men’s hockey at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 9-25, in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Players will be joining Team Canada from seven different leagues across North America and Europe. WHL Alumni set to don the Maple Leaf as members of Team Canada include defenceman Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, B.C), forwards Gilbert Brule (North Vancouver, B.C.), Quinton Howden (Oakbank, Man.), Robert Klinkhammer (Lethbridge, Alta.), Brandon Kozun (Calgary, Alta.) and Linden Vey (Wakaw, Sask.).

Four players (Brule, Elliott, Howden and Vey) have previously represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, two (Elliott and Howden) played for Canada at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship and two (Howden, Kozun) have represented Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

The six WHL Alumni listed on Canada’s Olympic roster have played a combined 1,400 WHL games, scoring 1,339 points (531G-808A). Elliott played the entirety of his WHL career with the Saskatoon Blades. Brule played all of his games with the Vancouver Giants. Howden likewise spent all of his WHL career with one club in the Moose Jaw Warriors. Kozun and Vey played their WHL careers with the Calgary Hitmen and Medicine Hat Tigers respectively. Klinkhammer spent time with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Seattle Thunderbirds, Brandon Wheat Kings and Portland Winterhawks.

In addition to the six WHL Alumni on the roster, the WHL is represented on the coaching staff with Willie Desjardins (Climax, Sask.) and Dave King (Saskatoon, Sask.). Desjardins played for the Lethbridge Broncos in the 1970s and won two WHL Championships behind the bench of the Medicine Hat Tigers. King previously coached the now-defunct Billings Bighorns in the 1970s.

“It has been an exciting journey to arrive at this 25-player roster, and I want to congratulate these players on earning their place in history to represent Canada on the biggest sporting stage in the world – the Olympic Winter Games,” said general manager Sean Burke. “I want to thank Hockey Canada, the management group, our coaches, and our team staff for ensuring that we had all of the resources we needed to focus on assembling a team that Canadians will be proud to cheer on in PyeongChang. We have a very special group of talented players and staff who are ready to compete in South Korea next month, and we will cherish the opportunity we’ve been given to stand alongside the other Canadian Olympians and represent the red-and-white.”

Canada is traditionally a force to be reckoned with in men’s hockey, winning 13 medals, nine of them gold, since the first Olympic hockey tournament was held at Antwerp 1920. The team is looking to repeat as gold medallist for a third consecutive Olympic Winter Games, having won back-to-back tournaments at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

Team Canada opens its Olympic schedule on Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, when it meets Switzerland in Group A. The gold-medal game is set to take place on Feb. 25.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the COC’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Federations in late January 2018.

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