Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) have announced the Team Canada West roster for the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) happening Dec. 11 to 17 in Bonnyville, Alta.
By league, there are 11 players from the BCHL, five from the Albert Junior Hockey League (AJHL), three from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and three from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
Also representing the BCHL will be Canada West head coach Barry Wolff (Kelowna, B.C.) of the Coquitlam Express and BCHL executive director Trevor Alto (White Rock, B.C.) who is serving as the team’s director of hockey operations for the second-straight year.
There are five returning players from last year’s gold-medal-winning team: Kyle Betts (Powell River, BCHL), Joseph Nardi (Whitecourt, AJHL), Carter Turnbull (Powell River, BCHL), Blake Hayward (Coquitlam, BCHL) and Cale Makar (Brooks, AJHL).
This year’s World Junior A Challenge will be the 11th in event history. Canada West will compete in Group A along with Switzerland and Russia. Team Canada East (FULL ROSTER) will compete in Group B with the United States and the Czech Republic.
A trio of players from last year’s gold-medal-winning team went on to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in captain Tyson Jost (10th overall to Colorado), defenceman Dante Fabbro (17th overall to Nashville) and defenceman Dennis Cholowski (20th overall to Detroit). In all, 26 players from last year’s WJAC were selected at the 2016 Entry Draft.
Many former WJAC participants have gone on to star in the NHL including Nail Yakupov, Kyle Turris, Vladimir Tarasenko, Reilly Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, Jaden Schwarz, David Pastrnak, Yevgeni Kuznetzov, Riley Nash, Troy Stecher, Hampus Lindholm, Zach Hyman, Ben Hutton, Jesper Fast, Beau Bennett, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jimmy Hayes, Mikhail Grigorenko and Alexander Burmistrov.
Team Canada West opens play at the 2016 WJAC with a game at 7:30 p.m. MST on Sunday, Dec. 11 against Switzerland. The gold-medal game will be a 5 p.m. MST start on Saturday, Dec. 17 and will be carried by TSN. All games will be at R.J. Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville.