By Dave Leaderhouse
After having not one player (eight were invited) make the Team West roster for the World Junior “A” Challenge last season, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League will have 11 players seeking a spot this time around following the announcement this week of the list of invitees for the selection camp in early December.
Of the 11 SJHL players who will head to Leduc, Alta., from Dec. 5-8, four were invited last year with Dakota Boutin of the Melfort Mustangs, Mike Eskra of the Weyburn Red Wings, Regan Seiferling of the Yorkton Terriers and Layne Young of the Battlefords North Stars looking to change their fate from a year ago.
Eskra, who was unable to attend the camp last year due to injury, heads a list of five defencemen from the SJHL with the others being Seiferling, Cory Thomas of the Flin Flon Bombers and the Battlefords’ tandem of Levi Kleiboer and Cody Spagrud.
Up front, Boutin and Young are joined by Adam Dawe of the Notre Dame Hounds, Kaelen Holt of the Estevan Bruins and Brandon Lesko of the Flin Flon Bombers while the lone goaltender from the SJHL invited to the camp is Brandon Wells of the Melville Millionaires.
Flin Flon head coach Mike Reagan will once again be an assistant coach with the Team West squad with Kindersley Klipper bench boss Geoff Grimwood listed as a guest coach.
Reagan, along with head coach Barry Wolff of Coquitlam and the other assistant coaches, Marc Berry of Dauphin and Rick Swan of Bonneyville, will be looking to trim down the 60 invitees to its final roster of 22 with a series of intrasquad games and practices.
The final roster and coaching staff will then move on to Bonneyville, Alta., for the annual World Junior “A” Challenge where they will be the defending champions following a 2-1 decision over Russia in the gold-medal game played last year in Ontario.
Team West will be grouped with Russia and Switzerland in one pool at this year’s event, which gets underway Dec. 11, while Team East will be battling with the Czech Republic and United States in the other preliminary pool.
The gold-medal game is scheduled for Dec. 17.