Team Canada Announces U18 Captaincy for Ivan Hlinka Tournament

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.

(Photo: barriecolts.com)
(Photo: barriecolts.com)

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.

Hockey_Canada_LSam 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.

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Spencer Watson‘s Two Goal Performance lifts Canada over Slovakia

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament opened up with exhibition games on Saturday in Piestany, Slovakia. The crowd was in for a treat at Zimny Stadion as Kingston Frontanacs forward Spencer Watson put on a dazzling display to help Team Canada secure its first exhibition win.

Watson opened the scoring eight minutes into the first period with help from Jake Virtanen and Ryan Pilon. The first period proved to be all Canada as 5 minutes later Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle added another. Up 2-0 heading into the second period, the Canadians were putting on a show.

The Slovakians however, had something to say about that. Four minutes into the second period, Ladislav Romancik cut the Canadians lead in half and it seemed that they were going to make a game of it. Team Canada seemed to not stay out of the penalty box as they took two early on.

Spencer Watson sealed the deal for Canada in the third period as he notched his second of the game. Dal Colle picked up another assist to the goal adding to both players impressive first game performance. Julio Billia and Mason MacDonald shared both goaltending duties stopping 17 shots. Slovakia was out shot as the Canadians threw 50 at their net minder.

Team Canada’s next exhibition game will take place this coming Monday, August 5th as the Czechs welcome into their city of Breclev. Czech Republic should give the Canadians a bit more trouble this time around.

The Canadian Women’s Team And The Road To Sochi

The Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team have started the long road of training for the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

(Photo: Greg Hounslow. Flickr.)
(Photo: Greg Hounslow. Flickr.)

A roster of 27 players just finished an intense month long boot camp in Penticton, British Columbia. The roster of 27 is made up of 3 goaltenders, 9 defencemen and 15 forwards. Veteran players Hayley Wickenheiser, Gillian Apps and Jayna Hefford were all in attendance. Team Canada is looking for another repeat gold medal in Sochi and head coach Dan Church is pleased with he the team he has put together so far.

In November, the team will take part in the famous 4 nations cup in Lake Placid, New York.  Along with Canada and The US, Sweden and Finland make up the four teams. Team Canada has come out on top 12 times in 17 tournaments and is favoured to win it once again.

Women’s hockey has come a long way in the past ten years. Finland, Sweden and Russia have stepped their game up and now ice competitive teams. We can never count out Team USA though as they are still incredibly strong.

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi are right around the corner. Except Team Canada to announce the final roster sometime in late December.

Canadian Hockey League’s Banning Of European Goaltenders.

Well here’s a touchy subject. For lack of a better reason and for a few years of failed World Junior Championship gold, the Canadian Hockey League has put in a ban of drafting European goaltenders. Apparently ours suck and need a wee bit of conditioning.

I’m gonna look at this from both sides of the table though.

Justin Pogge. (Photo - Sylvain Nadeau, flickr.)
Justin Pogge. (Photo – Sylvain Nadeau, flickr.)

First off, tell me something. Let’s say you were General Manager of oh…I don’t know…let’s say the Erie Otters. And let’s say you formed one hell of a team, you had the next Sidney Crosby, the next Pavel Datsyuk, the next Al McInnis (How come everyone’s forgotten about Al?!), hell, even the next Wayne Gretzky. All you’re missing from your piece of the Memorial Cup puzzle is one hot goaltender. Are you really going to care where this guy is from??? Who would you rather, Mika Samsoniteov  with a GAA of 0.02 from Russia or Johnny Canuck with a GAA of 10.93? I don’t know, but I’d be a little peeved.

Another question. Are they still allowed to draft American goaltenders?? Why sure they are! How is that really fair?

Sigh. But, as a patriotic Canadian I can see their point. Kinda. Our efforts at the World Juniors when it comes to goaltending the past few years have been dismal at most. While I won’t mention any names, (I’m sure you all know who they are), Team Canada has a HUGE reputation to uphold as the best hockey nation on the planet. They see that they are losing the goaltending battle and figure this is a way to save face.

Relax Bobby Lu. You're fine.
Relax Bobby Lu. You’re fine.

Last point though….no one’s saying these young Canadian goaltenders can’t go get signed over in the European leagues and get conditioned there. Hell, a bunch of the coaches are Canadian.

Second last point…..I hate to sound like a Don Cherry but, all you youngsters out there, STOP IT WITH THE BUTTERFLY. Stand up more, you’ll save more shots. But what do I know…..I’m just a woman, right?

Third last point. Kudos if you caught the Dumb and Dumber reference.