The Western Hockey League will be represented by nine current WHL players and one WHL Alumni on Canada’s National Junior Team for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, after Hockey Canada unveiled its final 25-player roster Friday morning.
WHL players set to don the Maple Leaf as members of Canada’s National Junior Team include goaltenders Taylor Gauthier (Calgary, Alta. / Prince George Cougars) and Dylan Garand (Victoria, B.C. / Kamloops Blazers), defencemen Braden Schneider (Prince Albert, Sask. / Brandon Wheat Kings), Kaedan Korczak (Yorkton, Sask. / Kelowna Rockets), Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C. / Vancouver Giants) and Kaiden Guhle (Sherwood Park, Alta. / Prince Albert Raiders), and forwards Connor Zary (Saskatoon, Sask. / Kamloops Blazers), Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta. / Winnipeg ICE), and Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Yukon / Lethbridge Hurricanes). Rounding out WHL representation on Canada’s National Junior team is WHL Alumni Kirby Dach (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. / Saskatoon Blades).
Of the nine WHL players, two are returning players from Canada’s gold-medal entry at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship – Byram and Cozens.
In addition to the nine WHL players and one WHL Alumni on the Canadian roster, the WHL is represented by Alan Millar (U20 lead, Program of Excellence management group / Moose Jaw Warriors), and assistant coaches Tyler Dietrich (Saskatoon Blades), Michael Dyck (Vancouver Giants) and Mitch Love (Saskatoon Blades), goaltending coach Jason Labarbera (Calgary Hitmen), and therapist Brian Cheeseman (Edmonton Oil Kings).
“This camp has been unconventional from the outset with the number of players invited and the length of camp, along with the schedule adjustment due to our two-week shutdown, but we feel we have selected a group that will give us the best chance to defend our gold medal on home ice,” Millar said. “It is never easy making decisions to trim down a roster, especially when every player handled adversity, faced challenges head on and remained committed to the process through our off-ice workouts and Zoom sessions. We have a lot of people to thank, including the people of Red Deer, the Red Deer Rebels (WHL) and Alberta Health Services, who worked with us to always ensure the health and safety of our athletes, staff and the community at large, and we look forward to representing Canada in Edmonton.”
The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship begins on Christmas Day with three games before Canada kicks off its tournament schedule on December 26 against Germany at 4 p.m. MT. TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will broadcast all 28 tournament games and the 10 pre-tournament games that begin December 20.
Canada has captured 18 gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Championship (1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2018, 2020), in addition to 11 silver (1975, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2017) and six bronze (1974, 1978, 1983, 2000, 2001, 2012).