Hockey Canada announced on Thursday the roster of 22 players that will represent Canada at the upcoming Under-18 Junior World Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia, from August 9-14. Hockey Canada held a week long development camp in Kitchener, ON, that began on Saturday July 30th where 40 of Canada’s top under-18 players were vying for a spot on Team Canada.
Director of Player Personnel for Hockey Canada Blair Mackasey headed the selections along with Head Coach Shawn Camp (OHL-Sarnia Sting) and Assistant Coaches Cory Clouston (WHL-Kootenay Ice) and Curtis Hunt (Regina Pats). “We are extremely pleased at the level of intensity these young men showed during this past week” said Mackasey. “The group of players selected today have showed the skill and determination necessary to succeed at the international level.”
Canada will look to defend their title and win their ninth Junior World Cup gold medal having captured gold at eight of the previous nine events that have been held annually in August. The Junior World Cup in 2003 was the only year in which Canada failed to medal at the August event when they finished fourth.
Ten of the twenty-two players play in the WHL, six are from the OHL, five are from the QMJHL and there is one player from the NCAA.
Canada’s Under-18 program and the Summer Development Camp are part of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence beginning with the regional Under-17 teams and ending with the National Junior Team. The primary objectives of the Under-18 program are to identify, evaluate and condition players for the rigors of international competition by giving them their first exposure to international hockey and travel. Many of these Under-18 players will move on to play with Canada’s National Junior team, and many will be high NHL draft picks in 2006.
The released players will continue to be evaluated and monitored along with other Under-18 Canadian players for possible future involvement in the Program of Excellence. This could come as early as the 2006 IIHF World Under-18 Championship on April 12-22, 2006 in Angelholm and Halmstad, Sweden.