Okotoks, AB, July 16th, 2009 - The Alberta Junior Hockey League, in partnership with Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League, is pleased to announce that the Okotoks Oilers will host an Evaluation Camp for Team Canada West in preparation for the 2009 World Junior A Challenge. The four-day camp will take place from September 27th – 30th, 2009 at the Centennial Arena in the Southern Alberta community of Okotoks.
The top 40 players from the five western leagues of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) will be invited to participate in the evaluation camp for the prestigious opportunity to earn a position on the Team Canada West roster. Team Canada West will include the top 22 players from the British Columbia Hockey League, the Alberta Junior Hockey League, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the Manitoba Hockey League and the Superior International Hockey League.
Okotoks Oilers Governor Wayne Lauinger believes the event will provide valuable exposure for the Okotoks Oilers, the community and the Alberta Junior Hockey League, “Hosting an event such as this will expose the benefits and opportunities the AJHL and the Oilers offer to our players. We aim to showcase the Okotoks Oilers, the community, our players and the AJHL to the rest of Canada. This will truly be a great community event and we look forward to welcoming the Junior A world to Alberta.”
Team Canada West General Manager Leonard Strandberg is confident the evaluation camp will ensure the best players are selected for the 2009 roster, “The camp provides an ideal environment for our staff to evaluate the talent as they compete against one another for a spot on the Team Canada West roster.” Strandberg expects the camp to be very competitive as these elite players strive to achieve their goal of representing Canada. “Every player involved in hockey has dreamed about representing their country and this is their chance to do it.” Strandberg will return as the General Manager of Team Canada West for the second consecutive year.
Rylan Ferster of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who was an Assistant Coach in 2008, will assume the position of Head Coach for Canada West. Ferster replaces Boris Rybalka of the Camrose Kodiaks, who led Canada West to two gold medals and a silver medal finish in his three years as Head Coach. Larry Wintoneak of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers and Barry Butler of the MJHL’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines will join Ferster as Assistant Coaches.
Following the evaluation camp, Strandberg and his coaching staff will scout players at games and events in Canada’s five western leagues (BCHL, AJHL, SJHL, MJHL, SIJHL) before the final roster is named in mid-October.
Summerside, P.E.I. will host the 2009 World Junior A Challenge from November 1st - 8th, 2009 at Credit Union Centre. The 2009 World Junior A Challenge will follow the same format as previous years - two Canadian entries will be joined by four international teams, separated into two groups of three teams. The group winners will receive an automatic bye to the semi-finals, while the second and third place teams will crossover for the quarter-finals.
In August, Team Canada East will hold multiple evaluation camps for the five eastern CJHL leagues (OJHL, NOJHL, CJHL, LHJAAAQ, MJAHL). The first camp is scheduled for August 15th in Renfrew, Ontario and will be hosted by the CJHL (CJHL, NOJHL and LHJAAAQ players). The second camp will hosted by the Ontario Hockey Association on August 22nd in Richmond Hill, Ontario (OJHL players) and the coordination of a third camp in the Maritimes is currently under review.
A full schedule of events and the 40-man roster for the evaluation camp will be announced shortly. For more information on the 2009 World Junior A Challenge, visit www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac or www.cjhlhockey.com.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)