CALGARY, Alta. – Team Canada East and Team Canada West have selected their final rosters ahead of the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, and 44 players are set to wear the Maple Leaf in Bonnyville, Alta., beginning this weekend.
The 22 players selected to represent Team Canada East participated in a three-day selection camp at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., where they competed in a series of games and practices, including a match-up against an OJHL all-star team. The players were selected from the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s five eastern leagues – the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL), Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec (LHJAAAQ) and Maritime Hockey League (MHL).
“Our 40 selection camp invites had a competitive camp, and having the opportunity to play a skilled OJHL all-star team was important to our evaluation process,” said Chris Vanstone, director of operations for Team Canada East. “We believe we have assembled a strong team that will prove to be competitive at the World Junior A Challenge, and we look forward to getting our tournament started this weekend in Bonnyville.”
In Calgary, Team Canada West gathered at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park for a three-day selection camp that included three intrasquad games. The final 22 players were selected from the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s five western leagues – the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
“After months of preparation and identifying players, it was great to gather in Calgary and allow the players to compete for a spot on Team Canada West,” said Kevin Saurette, director of operations for Team Canada West. “Whenever you gather the best players from five Junior A leagues, there are bound to be difficult decisions. We believe we have a strong group of talented players, and we look forward to the challenge of competing for a gold medal.”
On Team Canada East, two players (Derek Dicaire and Cade Townend) will return to the line-up after participating in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S., while Team Canada West will have three returning players (Harrison Blaisdell, Dylan Holloway and T.J. Lloyd) who won gold at last year’s event.
The 2018 World Junior A Challenge represents a partnership between Hockey Canada, the AJHL and the CJHL, as well as NHL Central Scouting.