By Craig Stein
Nine SJHL Players Looking For A Spot
Sixty players from Western Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey teams have been named to a selection camp roster with the hope of representing Team Canada West at the upcoming World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia.
The camp runs December 2nd to 5th in Calgary.
Nine of the 60 hopefuls come from the SJHL, and they are:
Goaltender Jacob Wassermann of the Humboldt Broncos, defensemen Tim Gould (Notre Dame), Levi Kleiboer (Battlefords) and Josh McDougall (Nipawin), and forwards Crystopher Collin (Flin Flon), Jared Hamm (Notre Dame), Ben Hiltz (Weyburn), Michael McChesney (Estevan) and Chantz Petruic (Yorkton).
Mike Reagan, Head Coach & GM of the Flin Flon Bombers will be back on the Canada West bench, this time as Head Coach, and believes our league will be well-represented at camp.
“When you look at the B.C. and Alberta leagues, they obviously have more teams and larger population bases, so it’s no secret they’ll have a few more guys at camp. The SJ tends to be an older league since out west they can only carry six 20 year olds on each team, so there’s a bigger pool of experienced 18 year olds. When you look at guys who’ve made it in the past, (Brandon) Lesko and (Cory) Thomas last year, they both played as 17-year-olds, and that’s true for some guys coming to this camp, like Hiltz and Kleiboer. I coach here and I’m proud of our league, but at the end of the day we’re Canada West, we’re not Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Manitoba so it’s my job to take the 22 best guys regardless where they play junior.”
The WJAC is largely an “18-and-under” tournament, and the teams can only have a maximum of five 19-year-olds (1998 birthdays) so Reagan reminds fans to keep that in mind, saying some notable 1998-birthdays from all leagues may have been left off the camp roster, only because just five can be on the team, meaning only 10-15 ’98’s were invited to camp.
“Even after two years at the event, it’s eye-opening how much talent is out there,” said Reagan. “These are all great leagues and it’s a real challenge to narrow it down to a camp roster, and then getting down to 22, and from there going up against the Russians and the Americans, it’s unbelievable and the guys experiencing that for the first time will be in for a treat.”
The sixty hopefuls report to Calgary the evening of December 2nd where Reagan says it will mainly be goaltending sessions, before going into scrimmages the morning of December 3rd. A “Top-40” game will wrap up camp on December 5th before they’ll finalize their 22-man roster.
The 2017 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge runs December 10-16 in Truro, Nova Scotia. Canada West is in a pool with the United States and the Czech Republic. They’ll open the round robin against the Czechs the afternoon of Sunday, December 10th.