CALGARY, ALBERTA – Forty of Canada's best under-18 hockey players have been invited to attend Canada's National Under-18 Summer Team Selection and Development Camp that will run from July 31- at the Father David Bauer Olympic Arena in Calgary, AB, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League announced on Wednesday.
The forty players were selected by Hockey Canada's Head Scout Blair Mackasey who spent the 2003-04 season monitoring and evaluating the top Canadian players for selection to Canada’s Under-18 and National Junior team programs. Mackasey, along with the coaching staff, will oversee the camp evaluations and selection of the players named to the roster for the U-18 Junior World Cup.
Twenty-two of the forty players at camp will be selected to Canada’s National Under-18 Summer Team, which will participate in the U-18 Junior World Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia, from August 10-15, 2004. Canada has participated in an August Under-18 Tournament in Europe since 1996, capturing a gold at seven of the eight events, finishing fourth place last year. Other teams participating at the August U-18 Junior World Cup include: Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States.
Team Canada’s Under-18 Head Coach is Dave Cameron (Toronto St. Michael's, OHL) and assistants Benoit Groulx (Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL) and Shawn Camp (Sarnia Sting, OHL).
Canada will participate in another, separate, international Under-18 event this season, the 2005 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April in the Czech Republic along with nine other countries. The coaching staff and players for the April World Under-18 Team will be named at a later date.
• Thirty-six of the 40 players have prior experience in Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence, having played at the 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in St.John’s, Newfoundland last year.
• Ontario, gold medal winners at the 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge , placed 12 players, while Team Pacific, (Alberta and British Columbia) the silver medalists placed 13 and Quebec, the bronze medalists placed 5 players on the Selection Camp roster.
• Thirty-six of the 40 players played in the Canadian Hockey League last season (WHL - 14; OHL – 13; QMJHL – 9; Junior A – 3, Midget AAA - 1)
Sixteen of the 23 players who won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics got their start playing for Canada in Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence.
Canada's National Junior Team is a key component of Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence (POE), which has been in operation since 1982. The POE allows Hockey Canada to identify and train Canada's most gifted young hockey players, to encourage and motivate them to play for their country and to provide them with the opportunities to measure and refine their skills against top caliber international competition.
Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence identifies players in specific age categories and provides them with an opportunity to take part in international competitions, preparing them for the World Junior Hockey Championship, the World Hockey Championship and the Olympic Games. In Men's hockey, the POE regroups the Regional Under-17 teams, the National Under-18 teams, the National Junior team and the National Men's teams.