CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), announced on Wednesday the 25 players that attend the Team Canada West pre-tournament camp prior to the 2008 World Junior A Challenge.
Canada West will release three players before the start of the tournament, which runs from November 2-9 in Camrose, AB, to get its roster down to the 22-player maximum. Canada West is the two-time defending gold medalist at the World Junior A Challenge, having scored gold medal game victories over Canada East in 2006 in Yorkton, SK and in 2007 in Trail, BC.
The Canada West roster is comprised of players from the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
“The players that we have selected for Team Canada West are the ones that we feel will give us the best opportunity to win a third consecutive gold medal,” said head coach Boris Rybalka. “There are so many good players in the West, which made the selection process very difficult. We are excited to have narrowed the list down to the group of players who we feel will best represent our team in the 2008 World Junior A Challenge."
“It brings me great pleasure to be able to announce the complete roster for Team Canada West today,” said general manager Leonard Strandberg. “The coaching staff has done a tremendous amount of scouting, and paid very close attention to the players we have in western Canada. We are very confident that we have selected the best available players from this region to represent Team Canada West.”
The selection process for Canada West involved extensive scouting by Rybalka, Strandberg and assistant coaches Rylan Ferster and Dwight McMillan, and included, for the first time, evaluation camps, with a camp held in Yorkton, SK for SJHL, MJHL and SIJHL hopefuls, and one in Sherwood Park, AB for AJHL talent.
Canada West’s pre-tournament camp roster for the 2008 World Junior A Challenge includes:
Three (3) goaltenders, eight (8) defensemen and 14 forwards
Four (4) players currently leading their teams in scoring (Derek Grant – Langley, Matt Mackay – Calgary Canucks, Justin Schultz – Westside, Rylan Schwartz – Notre Dame)
One (1) player currently leading the league in scoring (Rylan Schwartz – SJHL)
Three (3) players returning from the 2007 World Junior A Challenge (Tommy Brown, Andrew MacWilliam, Steven Seigo)
Three (3) players selected in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (Justin Schultz – Anaheim, 2nd round, 43rd overall; Derek Grant – Ottawa, 4th round, 119th overall; Andrew MacWilliam – Toronto, 7th round, 188th overall)
Nine (9) players from the BCHL, seven (7) players from the AJHL, six (6) players from the SJHL, two (2) players from the MJHL and one (1) player from the SIJHL
Canada West will play in Group A at the 2008 World Junior A Challenge, joined by Belarus and Russia, while Canada East, Germany and the United States will comprise Group B. Round-robin play will run until Thursday, November 6, with both semifinals taking place on Saturday, November 8. The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada, is set for Sunday, November 9 (check your local listings).
The roster for Canada East will be announced later this week. The international rosters will be announced next week.