CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced Thursday that Jason McKee, head coach and general manager of the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints, will be the head coach of Canada West for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, scheduled for November 5-11 in Yarmouth, N.S.
McKee will be joined by assistant coaches Trent Cassan (head coach and associate general manager, Yorkton Terriers, SJHL) and Ryan Smith (head coach and director of player personnel, Selkirk Steelers, MJHL) for the tournament.
Jason McKee, 34, will make his second appearance with Canada West at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge after winning a silver medal as assistant coach last year. He has been head coach and general manager of the Saints for the past three seasons, leading the team to a 129-30-18-3 record and guiding it to the AJHL final in 2011 and this year. McKee was the head coach of Team West at the CJHL Prospects Games in 2011. He spent three years playing in the ECHL after one season with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and three seasons at Michigan Tech University.
Trent Cassan, 29, will make his first appearance with Canada West at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge. Cassan has been head coach and associate general manager of the Terriers for the past four seasons, leading the team to a SJHL championship this year. He is a Terriers alumnus (2002-04) and played four seasons of NCAA hockey for SUNY-Geneseo.
Ryan Smith, 38, will be an assistant coach for Canada West for the second straight year, winning a silver medal last year. Smith has been the head coach of the Steelers for the past four seasons and, prior to joining Selkirk, was the head coach of the Winnipeg South Blues for one season. Smith played 10 seasons of professional hockey, mainly in Germany, after playing CIS hockey at the University of Manitoba. He won the Allan Cup, Canada’s National Senior Championship, with the South East Prairie Thunder in 2012.
Hockey Canada will announce details for Canada West camps in the near future.
Canada West has appeared in six of the seven gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenges, winning gold in 2006 in Yorkton, Sask., 2007 in Trail, B.C., and 2012 in Langley, B.C. It settled for silver in 2008 in Camrose, Alta., 2009 in Summerside, P.E.I., and last year in Yarmouth, and finished fourth in 2010 in Penticton, B.C.