Canada announced its 66-player roster, including 19 players currently playing for or drafted by one of the Western Hockey League’s 22 Member Clubs, selected to represent Canada at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, set for Nov. 3-10 in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B.
The 66 players will be divided into three teams – Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red, and Team Canada White – and will compete against the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States in their quest for a gold medal.
Featured among the 19 WHL players named to the roster are 10 of the top 11 players selected from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, including first overall selection Kaiden Guhle (Sherwood Park, Alta. / Prince Albert Raiders). Overall, 14 of the 22 first-round selections from 2017 WHL Bantam Draft were named to the roster by Hockey Canada. In November 2017, six WHL players won silver as part of Canada Red at the tournament, held in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C.
|Garin Bjorklund||G||6-0.75||162||2002-05-28||Grande Prairie, Alta.||Medicine Hat Tigers|
|Sebastian Cossa||G||6-4.75||211||2002-11-21||Fort McMurray, Alta.||Edmonton Oil Kings|
|Dylan Garand||G||5-11.75||170||2002-06-07||Victoria, B.C.||Kamloops Blazers|
|Aidan de la Gorgendiere||D||5-11.5||179||2002-02-22||Langley, B.C.||Saskatoon Blades|
|Kaiden Guhle||D||6-2.0||189||2002-01-18||Sherwood Park, Alta.||Prince Albert Raiders|
|Ryan Helliwell||D||5-11.5||181||2002-08-05||Burnaby, B.C.||Portland Winterhawks|
|Daemon Hunt||D||5-11.75||199||2002-05-15||Brandon, Man.||Moose Jaw Warriors|
|Luke Prokop||D||6-3.25||204||2002-05-06||Edmonton, Alta.||Calgary Hitmen|
|Ronan Seeley||D||5-10.75||177||2002-08-02||Olds, Alta.||Everett Silvertips|
|Kyle Crnkovic||F||5-6.0||153||2002-02-10||Chestermere, Alta.||Saskatoon Blades|
|Jack Finley||F||6-4.75||207||2002-09-02||Kelowna, B.C.||Spokane Chiefs|
|Ridly Greig||F||5-10.25||165||2002-08-08||Lethbridge, Alta.||Brandon Wheat Kings|
|Seth Jarvis||F||5-8.75||166||2002-02-01||Winnipeg, Man.||Portland Winterhawks|
|Connor McClennon||F||5-7.5||152||2002-06-25||Wainwright, Alta.||Kootenay ICE|
|Payton Mount||F||5-8.0||182||2002-01-19||Victoria, B.C.||Seattle Thunderbirds|
|Jake Neighbours||F||5-11.25||200||2002-03-29||Airdrie, Alta.||Edmonton, Alta.|
|Cole Shepard||F||5-9.75||153||2002-02-01||West Vancouver, B.C.||Vancouver Giants|
|Justin Sourdif||F||5-10.25||166||2002-03-24||Surrey, B.C.||Vancouver Giants|
|Ozzy Wiesblatt||F||5-9.25||195||2002-03-09||Calgary, Alta.||Prince Albert Raiders|
In July, 112 players were invited to participate in Canada’s national under-17 development camp and introduced to the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence. The players chosen to represent Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge were selected by Brad McEwen (Whitewood, Sask.), head scout for Hockey Canada, with assistance from U17 POE management group lead Martin Mondou (Grand-Mère, Que./Shawinigan, QMJHL), as well as regional scouts Carl Bouchard (Quebec), Barclay Branch (Ontario), Barclay Parneta (West), Darren Sutherland (Atlantic), and Darrell Woodley (Ontario).
“Any time you bring together the best young players in the country there are bound to be difficult decisions when selecting players, and we feel the 66 young men we chose exemplify the core values of the Program of Excellence,” said McEwen. “We believe that these players possess a willingness to learn and grow as they progress through our program and represent Canada, and give us the best chance to compete for a gold medal this November.”
The tournament opens Saturday, Nov. 3 at the qplex in Quispamsis when Finland takes on Sweden at 3:30 p.m. AT, followed by Team Canada Red, silver-medallist last year, facing off against Russia at 7:30 p.m. AT. The United States will kick off the action at Harbour Station in Saint John on Sunday, Nov. 4 when it plays the Czech Republic at 12 p.m. AT, followed by an all-Canadian match-up between Team Canada Black and Team Canada White at 4 p.m. AT.
The communities of Saint John and Quispamsis will receive the net proceeds from all ticket and ticket-package sales as a legacy of the event to support grassroots hockey within their communities as part of their hosting agreement with Hockey Canada. Additionally, recent editions of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge have resulted in as much as $6 million in economic impact within the host communities.
More than 1,700 NHL draft picks have suited up since the inception of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (previously known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, including 13 first-overall draft picks since 2001 (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; Connor McDavid, 2015; and Auston Matthews, 2016).