For the first time since 2007, the Merritt Centennials will have a representative at the World Junior A Challenge as defenceman Reece Willcox was named to Team Canada West late this afternoon.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel was the last Cents player to wear the maple leaf at the WJAC as he led Canada West to a gold medal in 2007, posting seven points in five games.
Here’s the joint release from the Centennials and Hockey Canada as posted on merrittcentennials.com:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Calgary, AB – November 1, 2011
Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced Tuesday the 22 players who will represent Canada West at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, Nov. 7-13, 2011 in Langley, B.C.
The roster was selected by Canada West head coach Kent Lewis (Powell River, B.C./Powell River, BCHL), along with assistant coaches Dean Brockman (St. Benedict, Sask./Humboldt, SJHL) and Andrew Milne (St. Albert, Alta./Canmore, AJHL), following a three-day selection camp at the Langley Events Centre, host venue for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge.
“Getting down to 22 players was by no means an easy decision,” said Lewis. “We had some tremendously talented players in camp, and they did not make our jobs easy as a coaching staff. We’re excited about the players we’ve selected and look forward to getting started.”
Players named to the Canada West selection camp roster were selected from the CJHL’s five western Junior A leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
17-year-old defenceman Reece Willcox is the lone Merritt Centennials player on the roster. The Surrey product is the first Cents player to represent Canada West since forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel did back in 2007.
Canada West’s roster for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge includes:
* two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards;
* 14 players from the BCHL, seven players from the AJHL and one player from the SJHL;
* four players returning from the 2010 World Junior A Challenge (Holland, Jardine, Juha [played for Canada East], St. Denis);
* three players who participated in the 2011 RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship (Camrose – Jardine; Vernon – Corkey, Hadley);
* one player who participated in the 2011 TELUS Cup, Canada’s National Midget Championship (Vancouver North West – Kerfoot);
* one player selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (Jardine – Chicago, 6th round, 169th overall).
Canada West will play in Group A, joined by Sweden and the United States, while Canada East, the Czech Republic and Russia will comprise Group B. Preliminary round play will run until Wednesday, Nov. 9, with both semifinals taking place Friday, Nov. 11. The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN/RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, is set for Sunday, Nov. 13 (check your local listings). All preliminary round games, quarter-finals, semifinals and the bronze medal game can be seen live via webcast through FASTHockey at hockeycanada.fasthockey.com.
Full-tournament 15-game ticket packages are on sale, including tickets to all 13 games at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, both CJHL Prospects Games and a free souvenir tournament program, for only $150, as well as single-game tickets and a flex package. To purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.
Canada West has appeared in four of the five gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenges, winning gold in 2006 in Yorkton, Sask., and 2007 in Trail, B.C., before settling for silver in 2008 in Camrose, Alta., and 2009 in Summerside, P.E.I. It finished fourth last year in Penticton, B.C.
For more information on the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, please visit http://www.HockeyCanada.ca/wjac, or follow along via social media at http://www.facebook.com/wjracor http://www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.