Team Canada has announced who will be donning the “C” and the “A” for the U18 Ivan Hlinka tournament taking place at this very moment in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Exhibition matches are already underway with Canada playing it’s next one against the Czech Republic on Monday.
Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad will lead the team as he was chosen as Captain today. Kingston Frontenacs forward Sam Bennett and Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts will don the “A” as alternate captains. Bennett has already won gold this year back in April at the U18 Worlds in Sochi, Russia.
A native of Belle River, Ontario, Ekblad was selected first overall in the 2011 Ontario Hockey League entry draft. He is one of three players who was granted “exceptional” player status (and the first defenseman) to allow him to play in the OHL before the respected age requirement at 15. John Tavares was the first in 2005. Spending the past two years with the Barrie Colts, he has notched up 63 points in 117 games.
Sam Bennett is one part of what I like to call the “Kingston Trio” in the form of the Frontenacs young killer threesome comprising of Bennett, Roland McKeown and Spencer Watson. Bennett played in his first OHL season during 2012/13 and notched a solid 40 points in 60 games.
Joe Hicketts also played in his first Western Hockey League season last year with the Victoria Royals. He scored 24 points in 67 games and was named captain of the Team Canada Pacific U17 squad.
The 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament gets underway on Friday, August 9th after a week of exhibition. Other nations in the tournament include the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.