TORONTO, Ont. – Hockey Canada is holding its first-ever NextGen sledge hockey prospects’ camp as part of its process for identifying the new crop of players who will represent Canada in international sledge hockey competition.
Sledge hockey has tripled its growth since 2010 from coast-to-coast-to-coast according to Hockey Canada registration numbers, providing a strong, national pool to allow the organization to host the NextGen Prospects’ Camp this week at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont. The 29 players invited to camp, held March 9-13, include seven players in their early teens.
“For Hockey Canada, the NextGen Prospects’ Camp is all about developing and evaluating the next wave of talent for our national sledge team program,” said Ken Babey, head coach of Canada’s National Sledge Team. “There are expectations and responsibilities that go along with being part of Team Canada, and with the growth and more formalized structure of sledge hockey across the country, we are now in a position to begin introducing the up-and-comers to those expectations at an earlier stage, which more closely mirrors what we do with our other men’s and our women’s national programs.”
Canada’s National Sledge Team has carved a successful path over the last decade, winning gold at three IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships (2000, 2008, 2013), and medalling at four of six Paralympic Winter Games since the sport’s introduction in 1994.
Learning from the best
Current National Sledge Team players will take active roles in the development of the 29 invitees, of which 15 (Calvert, Close, Culmone, Dolan, Duchane, Dunn, Grégoire, Jacobs-Webb, Kingsmill, Lacombe, LeBlanc, Rietveld, Sison, Swafford and Timofejew) will be attending their first Hockey Canada camp. Ontarians Brad Bowden (Orton), Adam Dixon (Midland), Corbin Watson (Kingsville), and Greg Westlake (Oakville) will provide on- and off-ice mentorship throughout the week.
For his part, Babey will be joined by his national team assistant coach Brandon Reid, as well as Marshall Starkman, manager of Canada’s National Sledge Team for Hockey Canada, Jim Babcock (Hockey Canada), Ken Cullum (Sledge Team Ontario), and Maxime Gagnon (Sledge Team Quebec) to evaluate players for selection to a three-game series against the U.S. as part of the Défi sportif AlterGO in Montreal, April 25-May 1.
All practices and intrasquad games at the MasterCard Centre are open to the public. Players and staff will be available for media interviews after every on-ice session.
For more information on Canada’s National Sledge Team and programs, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media at Facebook.com/HCSledge and Twitter.com/HC_Sledge.