CALGARY, AB -- Canada's National Under-18 Team will assemble at the Ice Gardens at York University in North York, ON from Aug. 2-7 for the NIKE Elite pre-competition camp before heading to Slovakia for a four- nation tournament, the CHA announced Wednesday.
Head coach Geoff Ward, and assistants Todd McLellan of the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, and Marc Habscheid of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, will put the 22 players through six days of on-ice sessions, off-ice team-building sessions, physical training and nutritional instruction and a media relations seminar before the team departs for Slovakia on Aug. 7.
The team will play two exhibition games against Slovakia, on Aug. 10 and 11, then will play the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belarus in a straight round-robin tournament from Aug. 13-16.
The Under-18 team is a key element of the Canadian Hockey Association's Program of Excellence, which helps prepare players, as well as coaches, for top-flight international tournament-style competition. Along with regional Under-17 teams, the Under-18 program helps prepare the players for possible involvement with the National Junior Team, which represents Canada annually at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
"The NIKE Elite camp and the tournament in Slovakia represent an extraordinary opportunity for the players to test themselves against the best players in Canada, as well as in Europe," said Ward, who was an assistant coach with the Under-18 Team in 1997 when it won a tri-nation tournament in the Czech Republic. "I believe we have a strong team again this year and I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with some of our best young players."
All the players will receive NIKE skates, gloves and shafts for the camp, one of two Elite camps NIKE is involved with. NIKE also will work with the CHA in staging the National Under-22 Women's Team from Aug. 3-9 in Calgary at the Father David Bauer Arena, the headquarters of the CHA's hockey operations.
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