“The Canadian way,” initiative has lead to what many are describing as a massive overhaul of the Hockey Canada U-17 program. From identification to invitation and then selection, the program looks to be heading in a new direction.
Fifty four coaches, equipment managers and medical staff, will descend upon the Hockey Canada U-17 nine-day selection camp being held in Calgary starting tomorrow.
Ninety-six skaters and a dozen goaltenders from across Canada will descend Tuesday upon the Markin MacPhail Centre, which houses Hockey Canada’s headquarters, an Olympic-sized rink and three NHL-sized surfaces.
Sixty-six of the one hundred and eight invitees will be chosen to represent the home country at the revamped World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Instead of five teams representing Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West and Pacific regions, Canada will enter three teams mixing players from different parts of the country.
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge had been traditionally held in late December for the preceding 22 years of its existence. It will now be held Nov. 2-8 in Sarnia, Ontario. That date was changed to allow young hockey players to go home for the December holiday break.
Of the one hundred and eight players arriving in Calgary, ten are from British Columbia, fourteen are from Alberta, two are from Saskatchewan, six from Manitoba, with Ontario having forty and Quebec having twenty five. Nova Scotia will have nine players at camp and there are two from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Among the players arriving in Calgary are Toronto defenseman Jake Chychrun, the first overall pick in this year’s OHL draft. Defenseman Luke Green of Bedford, Nova Scotia, was the first player drafted in the QMJHL. Edmonton forward Tyler Benson was chosen first in last year’s WHL draft.
Benson spent most of last season in the NAPHL AAA Midget league before making his WHL Vancouver Giants debut.
The coaches of the Red, Black and White teams and six assistants will run on-ice sessions. Jean-Francois Houle formerly of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and now in the ECHL, Sheldon Keefe of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Dan Lambert of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets are the head coaches of the three U-17 teams.