Every young Canadian hockey player dreams of representing their country by
donning the Maple Leaf.
It’s a dream that comes true this week for four members of the Saint John
Sea Dogs, who are on familiar ice going for gold at the 2018 World Under-17
Charlie DesRoches, Josh Lawrence, Jérémie Poirier and William Villeneuve
make up one of the largest contingents from a single Canadian Hockey League
team since Canada went to three national U17 teams in 2014.
(The Sea Dogs’ QMJHL rivals, the Shawinigan Cataractes, also have four
players at the tournament.)
“It’s huge. It’s everything you dream of as a kid,” says DesRoches, the
only one of the four not to be taken in the first round of the QMJHL Entry
Draft (he went at No. 32 in the second). “It’s going to be a real honour to
be a part of [the tournament]. I just want to take it all in and not take
it for granted.”
The Saint John quartet may only be 16, but their childhood memories of
watching Team Canada have certainly inspired them on their journey thus
Every passionate Canadian hockey fan has their own Team Canada memory –
from Paul Henderson in 1972, to Wayne Gretzky hooking up with Mario Lemieux
in 1987, to Sidney Crosby and the Golden Goal in 2010 – and these four are
“My family and I always watched the World Juniors,” says Lawrence, one of
two New Brunswick products to make the final Team Canada cut. “It’s an
unbelievable feeling and it gives you chills to think about representing
“I remember screaming and yelling when Crosby scored in 2010. It was a
crazy feeling watching that and now to put on a Maple Leaf, it’s a dream
And while the chance to make memories of their own is front of mind, the
World Under-17 Hockey Challenge presents an even bigger opportunity – to
grow, develop and take what they learn back to the Sea Dogs.
Saint John head coach Josh Dixon – who has U17 experience of his own as an
assistant coach with Canada Black in 2014 – knows what the tournament can
do for a young player’s game, and their confidence.
“I’m excited for all four young men to have the opportunity to represent
their country,” Dixon says. “The U17s will make them all better
individually, and most importantly it will make them all better team
players the next time they play for Canada and for the Sea Dogs.”
Just one small catch – they’ll have to learn to be better team players … on
When Canadian rosters were announced in late October, the four Sea Dogs
were spread across the three teams – DesRoches and Poirier will play for
Canada White, Lawrence for Canada Black and Villeneuve for Canada Red.
Before they had even traded in their Sea Dogs sweaters for Canadian
colours, the friendly rivalry had already begun.
“It’s going to be a great tournament, but there’s also bragging rights on
the line,” says DesRoches.
“I’m playing against Charlie and Jérémie the first game so we have been
going at it a little bit,” adds Lawrence. “It’s all in fun, but I’m just
really excited to get the tournament started.”