The Vernon Vipers will be without one of their top scorers, top defencemen and top goalies for a week in December, and perhaps longer.
Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), with assistance from NHL Central Scouting, have zeroed in on a list of 100 players from across the country who are invited to selection camps in advance of the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
A group of 60 invitees will assemble in Calgary Dec. 2-5 for four days of practices and games as part of the Team Canada West selection camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park. The players 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).
Earning invitations to Team Canada West were Vipers forward Brett Stapley, d-man Jack Judson and goalie Ty Taylor. Vernon native Powell Connor, a defenceman with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, has also been invited.
Team Canada West’s coaching staff and its director of operations, Kevin Saurette (Winnipeg/MJHL), will use the selection camp to make their final evaluations – with input from the camp’s guest coaches – before naming Team Canada West’s final roster.
“As a group, we are very excited at the depth of talent, character, and work ethic of the 60 players that have been identified for selection camp,” said Saurette. “We look forward to watching these players earn the opportunity to represent Team Canada West at what will be a very competitive selection camp. It is always a difficult process to narrow down and identify 60 players from the five leagues in the West, and I commend our coaching staff on all their hard work, dedication, and professionalism through this process.”
The tournament runs Dec. 10-16 in Truro, NS, with Team Canada West opening against the Czech Republic Dec. 10.
Stapley has 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 26 games played, tops on the Vipers and fifth in league scoring. Judson has 5-9-14 in 26 games. Taylor has appeared in 15 games, posting an 11-1-3 record with a 2.24 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
Connor has 1-13-14 in 28 games with the Chiefs.
Three other BCHL goalies were invited to camp: Reid Cooper (Salmon Arm), Mitch Adamyk (Powell River) and Zach Rose (Victoria).
Three Penticton Vees blueliners earned invites: Johnny Tychonic, Luke Reid and Ryan O’Connell.
Nearly half of those invited to the Canada West camp – 28 – are from the B.C. Hockey League, including forward Ross Armour of the Trail Smoke Eaters (14-25-39), tied for the league scoring lead with teammate Hale Howarth.
Meanwhile, 40 Team Canada East hopefuls will gather at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., for four days of scheduled games and practices as part of Team Canada East’s evaluation process.