Tournament action kicks off Sunday; Team Canada East and Team Canada West to play pre-competition games Friday
CALGARY, Alta. – The 22-player rosters have been set for Team Canada East and Team Canada West for the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 11-17, in Bonnyville, Alta. The Alberta Junior Hockey League will be represented by five players in addition to Video Coach Rick Swan (Bonnyville Pontiacs): Ryan Cox (Fort McMurray Oil Barons), Joseph Nardi (Whitecourt Wolverines), Ian Mitchell (Spruce Grove Saints), Cale Makar (Brooks Bandits) and Logan Drackett (Calgary Canucks).
Working in partnership with Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has wrapped up its two regional selection camps which featured a total of 100 players from across the country with the selection of the two 22-player rosters that will make up Team Canada East and Team Canada West at this year’s event.
“We have an abundance of talented players from coast-to-coast competing for a roster spot and I congratulate them all for making it this far and thank them for their commitment to the WJAC program and the CJHL. The decisions that are made at this stage are very, very tough. I commend our team staff for their dedication and for their work with all 100 players from across the country,” said Kirk Lamb, chair of the CJHL. “We especially want to thank the communities of Etobicoke and Leduc, who hosted our selection camps, for the warm hospitality. Congratulations to the 44 players selected to represent Canada at this year’s World Junior A Challenge, and best of luck to the players, coaches and staff.”
The CJHL leveraged 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.
Team Canada West players were 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).
The 2016 World Junior A Challenge, which features two Canadian and four international teams – the Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States – kicks off Sunday, Dec. 11, at the R.J. Lalonde Arena, part of the Bonnyville District and Centennial Centre.
Featuring some of the best young talent from around the world, the event has become a staple for NHL Central Scouting and junior hockey fans looking to catch a glimpse of the game’s future stars. Since the first World Junior A Challenge in 2006, more than 260 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 36 first-round selections (Beau Bennett, Brock Boeser, Alexander Burmistrov, Dennis Cholowski, Joe Colborne, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dante Fabbro, Nikita Filatov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Denis Guryanov, Tyson Jost, Dmitri Kulikov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Elias Lindholm, Hampus Lindholm, John Moore, Vladislav Namestnikov, Riley Nash, Valeri Nichushkin, Dylan Olsen, David Pastrnak, German Rubtsov, Ilya Samsonov, Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Schmaltz, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Smith, Evgeny Svechnikov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kyle Turris, Andrei Vasilevski, Jakub Vrana, Alexander Wennberg, Nail Yakupov and Jakub Zboril).
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.
Full-tournament ticket packages can be purchased online, and include all 13 games at R.J. Lalonde Arena. 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.
For more information on the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook and Twitter.