(TORONTO, ON) U Sports Canada has unveiled its roster for a two game exhibition series between the U Sports men’s hockey all-stars and Canada’s National Junior Team prospects.
The series, which was announced last month, will take place at the Centre d'Excellence Sports Rousseau, home of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, on Monday, Dec. 12(7PM Eastern) and Tuesday, Dec. 13(1PM Eastern), as part of the National Junior Team’s preparation for the 41st IIHF World Junior Championship, in Toronto and Montreal(Dec. 26 – Jan. 5).
The 23-player U Sports lineup is comprised of 11 standouts from the OUA conference and six apiece from the AUS and Canada West leagues. Twelve of the 23 players have represented U Sports against National Junior Team hopefuls in the past, including 11 returnees from last year’s inaugural national all-star squad which split the two-game series, winning the first game 5-4 in a shootout. The OUA contingent will look to make their case for a spot on the 2017 Winter Universiade roster, with head coach Brett Gibson also serving as the FISU Games bench boss.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for these 23 U Sports athletes from across the country to showcase how great of a product we have,” said Gibson. “It also comes with a great responsibility to be a small part of the preparation for our Canadian under-20 team in their quest for a gold medal.”
Protecting the U Sports net in Boisbriand will be goaltenders Kevin Bailie from Queen’s, Corbin Boes from Dalhousie and Jordon Cooke from Saskatchewan, who all suited up in last year’s event.
Boes, in his third season with the Tigers, leads the nation in save percentage (.933) while Cooke sits third in goals-against average (1.98) among goaltenders with at least 10 games played.
On defence, the eight-member unit includes Spencer Abraham of Queen’s, Tim Campbell of Lethbridge, Nathan Chiarlitti of McGill, Martin Lefebvre of UQTR, Kendall McFaull of Saskatchewan, Jordan Murray of UNB, Geoff Schemitsch of Acadia and Derek Sheppard of York.
Murray, who was named the AUS nominee for last season’s BLG Award as Male Athlete of the Year, ranks first in scoring by defencemen with nine goals and 28 points in 18 games this season.
McFaull and Schemitsch are both former NHL draft picks. McFaull was selected by Atlanta in the sixth round in 2010(155th overall) after skating for Moose Jaw in the OHL, while Schemitsch was chosen by Tampa Bay in the fourth round in 2010(96th overall) after five OHL seasons with Owen Sound and Oshawa.
The 12 forwards selected are Guillaume Asselin of UQTR, Holden Cook of StFX, Jamie Crooks of Alberta, Jordan DePape of Manitoba, Michael Fine of Ryerson, Olivier Hinse of Concordia, Philippe Maillet of UNB, Michael McNamee of Carleton, Elgin Pearce of Calgary, Mathieu Pompei of McGill, Allain Saulnier of Moncton and Brett Welychka of Carleton.
Saulnier, who spent four seasons in the QMJHL with Moncton, recorded a U Sports-leading 33 points in 18 games during the first half of the regular season.
Asselin, who starred in the QMJHL with Montreal and Chicoutimi, was voted U Sports player of the year in 2015-16 playing for UQTR. The former Juniors and Saguenéens forward has 12 goals in 10 games for the Patriotes.