Sunday, December 20, 2015

Canada's World Junior Team Will Have Solid WHL Representation

Hockey Canada revealed the 23-man roster for Canada’s National Junior Team ahead of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Sunday. Included in the final roster are seven players currently playing in the Western Hockey League.

Both Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, BC / Victoria Royals) and Brayden Point (Calgary, AB / Moose Jaw Warriors) return to the team this year after helping Team Canada to a gold medal one year ago.

Calgary Hitmen alum Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, BC / Vancouver Canucks) also returns to the team after being loaned to Team Canada by his NHL club.

WHL Players – Team Canada Final Roster

Defence H W DOB Hometown WHL Club NHL Draft
Haydn Fleury 6’3” 203 7/8/1996 Carlyle, SK Red Deer Rebels CAR ’14 (1, 7)
Joe Hicketts 5’8” 175 5/4/1996 Kamloops, BC Victoria Royals DET ’14 (FA)
Travis Sanheim 6’3” 184 3/29/1996 Elkhorn, MB Calgary Hitmen PHI ’14 (1, 17)

Mathew Barzal 6’0” 181 5/26/1997 Coquitlam, BC Seattle Thunderbirds NYI ’15 (1, 16)
Rourke Chartier 5’11” 190 4/3/1996 Saskatoon, SK Kelowna Rockets SJS ’14 (5, 149)
Brayden Point 5’10” 163 3/12/1996 Calgary, AB Moose Jaw Warriors TBL ’14 (3, 79)

 The 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship begins on December 26 in Helsinki, Finland when Team Canada will face Team USA.

In addition to the seven WHL players that will represent their country, the WHL will be well represented on the staff of Team Canada once again this year. Tim Speltz (Spokane Chiefs) was named to the Program of Excellence Management Group earlier this year, while Victoria Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry will be Team Canada’s bench boss. Brandon Wheat Kings General Manager and Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon will serve as an assistant coach under Lowry. Brian Cheeseman of the Edmonton Oil Kings will serve as a therapist for Team Canada, while the Victoria Royals’ Matt Auerbach was named as an equipment manager.

Canada’s final roster was named Sunday after Team Canada defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 on a goal by Kelowna Rockets forward Rourke Chartier. Canada will play Sweden on Wednesday in exhibition play; its final tune-up before the tournament begins.

“Our goal is always to assemble the best possible team to represent Canada. We had a really good evaluation period in Toronto and Imatra, and were able to see how the players responded to different situations – from practices to games,” said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada. “These are never easy decisions, but we feel confident in the team we have and their ability to make the nation proud and give us all something to get behind this holiday season.”

Canada won gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship on home ice last January. The team has not won in Europe since 2008 – the fourth of five consecutive gold medals for Canada’s National Junior Team from 2005-09.

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