Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hockey Canada inspects Bonnyville facilities in preparation for WJAC

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Hockey Canada's Dave Hysen and Ben Shutron were all smiles after viewing the Bonnyville Centennial Centre.
Eric Bowling
The local hockey facilities are up to international standards, according to the main authority on hockey in Canada.

Hockey Canada conducted inspections of Bonnyville and area facilities on July 8 in preparation for the 2016 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) being held in Bonnyville Dec. 11-17.

This is the first time Bonnyville has held the prestigious tournament, and the second time the tournament has been held in Alberta since its inception in 2006.

“We’re taking inventory of what we need and what we want,” said Events manager Dave Hysen. “The people of Bonnyville are treating us quite well.”

Hysen added that he was especially impressed with the Centennial Centre.

“It’s got the capacity, it’s got the space and it’s a world class facility.”

Also on hand was Hockey Operations manager Ben Shutron, who was there to ensure the training and equipment was up to snuff.

“We’re trying to formulate two strong teams, and bring the best performance that we can to Bonnyville,” commented Shutron.

Shutron mentioned that Hockey Canada would begin selection camps for Canada West in Leduc and Canada East in Toronto, with the final team being selected shortly before the tournament begins.

“There are enough players coming out to those for two to three teams,” noted Shutron, who expected both teams to be in Bonnyville by Dec. 8. “They’re big camps, but that’s how you get the best players out to play.”

Hysen mentioned that the development of the team is progressing at a normal pace.

“The directors of operations have just been announced for the team, so next up is coaches. That should be done in the coming months.”

While the WJAC is an international tournament with teams hailing from as far away as the Czech Republic and Russia, Hymen noted that Hockey Canada was still waiting to hear back from the invitations it sent out.

“We’re still waiting for confirmations,” noted Hysen. “We do have a general idea of who is coming. They might be the same teams as last year, so the United States, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Shutron added that the teams being sent from other countries are typically formed earlier in the season, so Team Canada would have its work cut out for it come December. Canada West has won gold in four out of the 10 tournaments, with the United States taking the other six.

The WJAC is considered one of the biggest showcases of up and coming talent in North America. More than 230 draft picks have gotten their start in the tournament, including 32 first round selections. The tournament helps benefit the economy of the community where it’s hosted, by bringing in up to $2 million.

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