CALGARY – The Western Hockey League, in partnership with Hockey Alberta, BC Hockey, Saskatchewan Hockey Association, Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada, announced team rosters, an event schedule, and ticket information for the 2015 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup on Monday.
This year’s event will take place from October 28-November 1 at the Markin MacPhail Centre (WinSport) in Calgary.
The roster for Team Alberta was announced Monday, along with rosters for British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Team Alberta won the title at the last Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup held in 2013. Team Alberta’s 2015 roster features one returning player (Ty Smith) from the squad that won a silver medal at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, BC.
The staff for the team includes: Bobby Fox (head coach), Craig Perrett and Bram Stephen (assistant coaches), Matt Keillor (video coach), Derek Purfield (goalie coach), Jamie Porter (head scout), KarynFanstone (athletic therapist), Alexander Le (equipment manager), Barry Medori (coach mentor), and Mike Kraichy (director of operations).
"Our coaching staff is extremely excited about this group of players," said Bobby Fox, head coach of Team Alberta. "There were many difficult decisions, as the depth of talent in Alberta is strong. It will be an honour and a privilege for our entire staff to work with the final 20 players selected to represent team Alberta at the 2015 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup."
Team Alberta opens against British Columbia on Wednesday, October 28 at 7 p.m. Team Alberta also plays Saskatchewan on Thursday at 3 p.m., and concludes round-robin play on Friday at 7 p.m. against Manitoba. The semi-finals go Saturday afternoon, with bronze and gold-medal games on Sunday.
The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup will feature the highest-rated players in the under-16 age category from the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The four-team round robin tournament is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence for players. Additionally, the event assists the four provincial hockey associations in evaluating top prospects for future high performance programs.
The majority of players participating in the event were selected in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft or have since been listed by WHL Clubs. The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup is made possible through financial support provided by the WHL and Hockey Canada.
This year will mark the fifth year of the event, which is held in non-Canada Winter Games years. The first Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup was held in Blackfalds in 2009 and featured four of the top eight players selected in the 2012 NHL Draft. Other events have been hosted in Moose Jaw, SK in 2011, and Calgary in 2012 and 2013.
“The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup provides the top prospects in each province with their first opportunity to compete against the best players in their age group,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The WHL, together with the four Western Branches and Hockey Canada, are proud to support this first step in the Program of Excellence which will showcase the future stars of the WHL and Canada’s National Teams for the first time.”
Past participants in this event include Matt Dumba (2009), Jake Virtanen (2011), Nick Merkley (2012), and upcoming NHL Draft prospects Tyler Benson, Sam Steel and Kale Clague (2013).