World Junior A Challenge schedule set

Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced Thursday the game schedule for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, Nov. 7-13 at the Langley Events Centre.

Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced Thursday the game schedule for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, Nov. 7-13 at the Langley Events Centre.

Making its debut at the tourney will be the Czech Republic, which will play in Group B with Canada East and Russia.

The U.S., three-time defending gold medallists, will play in Group A with Canada West and Sweden.

Canada East will be the first Canadian team to see action, taking on the Czechs in the tournament opener Monday, Nov. 7, while the West will make its debut Tuesday, Nov. 8 against Sweden.

“With the addition of a top-tier international team like the Czech Republic, this year’s World Junior A Challenge is shaping up to be the most competitive in the tournament’s six-year history,” said Kirk Lamb, chairman of the CJHL. “Fans in Langley are in for a treat with the talent that will be on display at the Langley Events Centre.”

Dylan Walchuk was the lone Vernon Viper selected to play with Canada West at last year’s tournament in Penticton.

The 60-man Canada West training camp roster is expected to be announced today. Powell River Kings’ head coach Kent Lewis will be behind the bench with Canada West in Langley.

This year, for the first time, the CJHL Prospects Games will be held in conjunction with the WJAC. The two-game, total-goal series between Team East and Team West will feature the top-40 NHL draft-eligible players from Canada’s 10 Junior A leagues.

Since the first WJAC in 2006 (Saskatchewan), more than 100 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 13 first-round selections.