CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) announced on Thursday the 22 players that will make up Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship set for April 9-19 in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota.
The roster is comprised of players born in 1991 or earlier whose teams are no longer competing in the CHL playoffs with their respective club teams. Many of Canada’s players named today will be among the top selections at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, Que. in June.
Canada’s coaching staff – head coach Mike Johnston and Steve Spott – collaborated with Al Murray, Hockey Canada’s head scout for men’s national teams, to finalize the roster. Murray has been traveling across Canada evaluating and ranking players as part of his duties. Eric Lavigne, who was named as an assistant coach for Team Canada, had to step down due to family reasons and will not continue with the team – his position will not be replaced for the event.
“Whenever you’re selecting a team with the depth of talent that we have in Canada, it makes for a very difficult process,” said Murray. “We are very proud and feel very comfortable with the team we have assembled, and we look forward to preparing our team that will hopefully challenge for a gold medal.”
“As a coaching staff we are looking forward to the opportunity this week to get our team on the ice and begin preparation for the world championship,” said Johnston. “The current roster has 17 players with international experience at under-17 and under-18 events. This type of experience will prove to be invaluable for this year’s edition of the team.”
Canada’s roster includes 12 players from the Ontario Hockey League, eight (8) players from the Western Hockey League and one (1) player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as one from the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Nine (9) players helped Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team capture the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in August 2008 in the Czech Republic.
Canada’s roster also includes 13 players who took part in the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in London, Ont., including seven (7) members of the gold medal-winning team from Ontario, and three players (Connolly, Gudbranson, McFarland) who competed at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Port Alberni, B.C., with Gudbranson and McFarland capturing gold with Ontario.
The players and staff began arriving yesterday in Minneapolis, where they will be based for all pre-tournament activities, including practices and a pair of exhibition games versus Slovakia and Germany. The team will proceed to Fargo on Wednesday, April 8 and will open up the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship on Thursday, April 9 versus Germany.
TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada, will broadcast Canada’s final preliminary round game against Sweden on Tuesday, April 14, as well as a quarter-final on Wednesday, April 15 or Thursday, April 16, a semifinal on Friday, April 17 and the gold medal game on Sunday, April 19. The bronze medal game on April 19 will also be broadcast if Canada plays for bronze. Check your local listings for game times in your area.