CALGARY, AB -- Canada's National Junior team will play pre-tournament games against Finland, Russia and Switzerland during a six-day pre-competition camp in Kenora, and Dryden, ON for the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championship, the Canadian Hockey Association and the Canadian Hockey League announced Monday.
Canada is playing host to the 10-team championship, which will be held in Winnipeg and surrounding cities from Dec. 26-Jan.. Canada opens the tournament on Dec. 27 against Slovakia in Brandon, MB. Finland is the defending champion, having won the 1998 World Junior Championship in Helsinki last January, beating Russia in the gold-medal final game. Switzerland was the surprise winner of the bronze medal last year.
"This camp will provide a great measuring stick for where our team sits going into the competition," said Tom Renney, the CHA's Vice-President, Hockey as well as head coach of the 1999 National Junior Team. "We will want to use the camp to build team chemistry, but we'll still be in preparation mode for the World Championship, which has become one of the key events of any hockey season in Canada."
Renney will work with assistants Claude Julien, head coach of the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as Stan Butler, head coach of the expansion Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. The coaches, working with Barry Trapp, the CHA's head scout, will invite 32 players to a selection camp in Winnipeg from Dec. 13-18. From that group of players, 22 will be chosen to represent Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Canada has won the tournament a record 10 times, including seven of the last nine and five in a row between 1993-97. That stretch included a victory in the Championship in Red Deer, AB, in 1995, the last time the World Junior Hockey Championship was held in this country.
During the camp, Team Canada will stay at Kenora's Best Western Lakeside Inn, the official pre-competition camp host. Kenora's Michael Smith Fitness Centre will be the site of four games during the pre-competition camp, including all three games involving Team Canada. Team Canada will play Switzerland on Sunday, Dec. 20, Russia on Tuesday, December 22 and Finland on Wednesday, Dec. 23. All games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
"Both Kenora and Dryden have been strong supporters of the Canadian Hockey Association's programs, particularly the Men's National Team and we expect that the tradition of support the two communities have demonstrated will help make this pre-competition camp a success for all teams involved, as well as enjoyable for the hockey fans in that area," said Denis Hainault, the CHA's Director, High Performance.