CALGARY, AB - André Benoit, a native of St. Albert, ON and a defenceman with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers has been named Team Canada's captain for the 2002 IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championship, the team's head coach Mike Pelino announced on Wednesday. The alternate captains will be Pierre-Marc Bouchard, of Boucherville, QC, Jarret Lukin, of Fort McMurray, AB and Eric Staal, of Thunder Bay, ON.
Benoit played with Canada's National Under 18 Summer Team in August, 2001 as Canada captured the Six Nations Under 18 Cup in the Czech Republic. The 18 year old defenceman has just completed his second season with the Kitchener Rangers, and was named the team's Scholastic-Player-of-the-Year.
The three alternate captains also played with Canada's Under 18 Summer Team at the 2001 Six Nations Under 18 Cup.
Bouchard plays with the QMJHL's Chicoutimi Saguénéens. The 17 year old forward capped off an outstanding 2001-2002 season with three significant awards (Top Scorer, Top Offensive Player, Top Prospect) at the QMJHL's year-end banquet.
Staal just completed a second highly successful season with the OHL's Peterborough Petes. The 17 year old forward was the Petes' top scorer in the playoffs and their third top scorer in the regular season.
Lukin now has two seasons under his belt with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers. The 18 year old forward more than doubled his rookie season point total in 2001-2002.
"As a coaching staff, we're thrilled with all the leaders that we have in the dressing room," said Head
Coach Mike Pelino. "Our captain and three alternates all have international experience, having distinguished
themselves in both the Under 17 and Under 18 Program."
The 2002 IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championship gets underway on Thursday, April 11th in Piestany and Trnava, Slovakia. Canada opens up the Championship on April 11th against the defending champion Russian team.
"The whole squad is excited about getting started," said Pelino. "We've only had a few days to prepare but the team has really come together well and is looking forward to the challenge ahead of us."