WINNIPEG, Man. -- Canadian Hockey and Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation announced Thursday that Team Canada will hold a mini-camp and play two exhibition games at the Winnipeg Arena against Team USA in April to prepare for the World Hockey Championship in Finland.
The games will be held on Saturday, April 19 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 20 at 2 p.m. to help Canada's team prepare to compete in the 1997 World Hockey Championship in Helsinki and Turku, Finland from April 26 to May 14.
'Winnipeg has a rich international hockey heritage and is simply an outstanding hockey city, so Canadian Hockey is very excited about holding its mini-camp there this spring,' said Bob Nicholson, Canadian Hockey's senior vice-president, hockey operations. 'The growing rivalry with Team USA should help make these games not just much-needed tune-ups for the championship, but compelling matches in and of themselves.'
Canada has been on the medal podium at the championship the last three years, with a silver medal in 1996, a bronze in 1995 and a gold medal in 1994, the first for Canada since 1961 when the Trail Smoke Eaters were the last amateur team to win the World Championship for Canada.
Team Canada arrives in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 17 and will practice both Thursday and Friday to prepare for the weekend games. Head coach Andy Murray will assemble a 20-player team in Winnipeg, made up of NHL players and five or six members of the full-time National Team.
'Precisely who will be there depends on the NHL playoff situation,' said Murray, a former assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. 'This is the first time we've ever held a mini-camp in Canada before the World Championship, so we're very excited about it.
'Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation and the City of Winnipeg are providing us with an outstanding opponity to launch our world championship effort this year, a very important year, since we're approaching this tournament as part of the long-range plan for the Winter Olympics in Nagano.'
Murray, along with full-time National Team general manager and associate coach Mike Johnston, will head Canada's World Championship team, along with a third coach to be selected from the NHL. Both Murray and Johnston will be assistant coaches with Canada's Olympic team at Nagano in February 1998.
Philadelphia Flyers' president and general manager Bob Clarke is GM of the World Championship and Olympic teams, along with assistants Bob Gainey, GM of the Dallas Stars, and Pierre Gauthier, GM of the Ottawa Senators. The head coach of the Olympic team will be named sometime in June.
Clarke, Gainey and Gauthier have been working together on player selection for the World Championship team, as well. Team USA, under head coach Jeff Jackson, also will train for two days in Winnipeg prior to the two pre-tournament games.