CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced Wednesday the full Canada East and Canada West coaching staffs for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, scheduled for November 7-13 in Langley, B.C.
Jason Nobili (Bolton, Ont./Toronto, OJHL) and Greg Walters (Toronto, Ont./Georgetown, OJHL) have joined the Canada East staff as assistant coaches, working with head coach Curtis Hodgins (Courtice, Ont./Whitby, OJHL), who was introduced as Canada East head coach during the 2011 RBC Cup, while Kent Lewis (Powell River, B.C./Powell River, BCHL) will serve as Canada West head coach, along with assistant coaches Dean Brockman (St. Benedict, Sask./Humboldt, SJHL) and Andrew Milne (St. Albert, Alta./Canmore, AJHL).
Mark Ferner was originally introduced as Canada West head coach during the 2011 RBC Cup, but stepped down after accepting a job as head coach of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.
Curtis Hodgins was named head coach of the OJHL’s Whitby Fury in April 2010 after a long tenure with the Bowmanville Eagles as both a player and a coach at the Junior A and Junior C levels. During his time behind the bench in Bowmanville, the Eagles won three East Division championships, and reached the Central Canadian Hockey League final in 2009-10. He served as an assistant coach with Canada East at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, winning a silver medal.
Jason Nobili just completed his first season as head coach and director of hockey operations with the OJHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens after one successful season in the same position with the OJHL’s Oakville Blades that saw the Blades win the OJHL championship and advance to the 2010 RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship. Nobili also has head coaching experience with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, and has been an assistant coach in the AHL, ECHL and OHL, as well as with Ontario at the 2003 Canada Winter Games and 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Greg Walters has spent one season as head coach and general manager of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders following eight seasons as an assistant and associate coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, which included a stint as interim head coach during the 2003-04 season, culminating in the first division championship in team history. A fourth-round selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Walters played 12 seasons of professional hockey in the AHL, ECHL, CoHL, IHL and UHL.
Kent Lewis has been head coach and general manager of the BCHL’s Powell River Kings for the past four seasons, leading the team to three consecutive appearances in the BCHL championship series. Overall, he has spent parts of 12 seasons as the Kings’ head coach, appearing in the BCHL final six times and winning the BCHL Coastal Conference Coach of the Year award on three occasions. He has also spent time behind the bench of the BCHL’s Victoria Salsa and Nanaimo Clippers, and won an Allan Cup, Canada’s National Senior Championship, as head coach of the Powell River Regals in 2000.
Dean Brockman is entering his eighth season as head coach and general manager of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, having led the team to SJHL championships in 2007, 20, an RBC Cup championship in 2008 and a berth in the RBC Cup championship game in 2009. He previously spent seven seasons as the Broncos’ general manager and assistant coach, helping the team to its first RBC Cup championship in 2003. He will make his fifth appearance at the National Junior A Championship with the Broncos when Humboldt hosts the 2012 RBC Cup next May.
Andrew Milne has been head coach and general manager of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles since the start of the 2008-09 season, and served as an assistant coach with Canada West at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge. Prior to joining the Eagles, Milne spent time as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos, as well as with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. He played two seasons in the WHL and two in the AJHL, and spent part of the 1999-2000 season playing professionally in the British National League. Milne also served as video coach for Team Pacific at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Both coaching staffs will oversee evaluation camps in mid-September and selection camps during the week prior to the 2011 World Junior A Challenge before the puck drops to begin the tournament on November 7.
“The coaches we’ve named today have a tremendous amount of experience at all levels of hockey, from minor hockey to Junior A, Major Junior and the professional game,” said Kirk Lamb, chairman of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. “We’re confident they’re the right coaches to lead Canada’s teams at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge.”
The 2011 World Junior A Challenge will follow the same format as previous years – two Canadian entries will be joined by four international teams, with two groups of three teams. The group winners will receive an automatic bye to the semifinals, while the second- and third-place teams will crossover for the quarter-finals. All 13 games of the 2011 World Junior A Challenge will take place at the Langley Events Centre, home of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen.
Since the first World Junior A Challenge in 2006 in Yorkton and Humboldt, Sask., more than 100 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including nine first-round selections (Joe Colborne, Nikita Filatov, Dmitri Kulikov, John Moore, Vladislav Namestnikov, Riley Nash, Dylan Olsen, Brendan Smith and Kyle Turris).
Every gold medal game at the World Junior A Challenge has featured at least one Canadian team. Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 20, before taking silver in 20. Canada East was silver medallists in 2006, 20 and claimed bronze in 2008.