The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), in partnership with Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), is pleased to announce that the Okotoks Oilers will host an evaluation camp for Canada West in preparation for the 2009 World Junior A Challenge. The four-day camp will take place from September 27-30 at the Centennial Arena in the southern Alberta community.
The top 40 players from the five western leagues of the CJHL – British Columbia Hockey League, Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Manitoba Hockey League and Superior International Hockey League – will be invited to participate in the evaluation camp for the opportunity to earn a position on the Canada West roster. Twenty-two players will make the final roster for the tournament, which will be held in at Credit Union Place in Summerside, P.E.I. from November 1-8.“Hosting an event such as this will expose the benefits and opportunities the AJHL and the Oilers offer to our players,” says Oilers governor Wayne Lauinger. “We aim to showcase the Okotoks Oilers, the community, our players and the AJHL to the rest of Canada. This will truly be a great community event and we look forward to welcoming the Junior A world to Alberta.”
“The evaluation camp provides an ideal environment for our staff to evaluate the talent as they compete against one another for a spot on the Team Canada West roster,” says Leonard Strandberg, Canada West’s general manager for the second-straight year. “Every player involved in hockey has dreamed about representing their country and this is their chance to do it.”
Rylan Ferster, head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, returns for his second-consecutive World Junior A Challenge, but first as Canada West’s head coach. Ferster has big shoes to fill as he replaces Boris Rybalka, who led Canada West to two gold medals and a silver in his three years behind the bench. Larry Wintoneak of the SJHL's Kindersley Klippers and Barry Butler of the MJHL's Waywayseecappo Wolverines will join Ferster as assistant coaches.
Following the evaluation camp, Strandberg and his coaching staff will scout players at games and events in Canada’s five western leagues before the final roster is named in mid-October.
A full schedule of events and the 40-man roster for the evaluation camp will be announced shortly.
In August, Canada East will hold multiple evaluation camps for the five eastern CJHL leagues – Ontario Junior Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, Central Junior A Hockey League, Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec, Maritime Junior A Hockey League. The first camp is scheduled for August 15 in Renfrew, Ont/ and will be hosted by the CJHL (CJHL, NOJHL and LHJAAAQ players). The second camp will hosted by the Ontario Hockey Association on August 22 in Richmond Hill, Ont. (OJHL players) and the coordination of a third camp in the Maritimes is currently under review.
The 2009 World Junior A Challenge will follow the same format as previous years – two Canadian entries will be joined by four international teams (Belarus, Russia, Sweden, United States) separated into two groups of three teams. The group winners will receive an automatic bye to the semifinals, while the second-place and third-place teams will crossover for the quarter-finals.