6 BCHLers headed to U17s

Hockey Canada announced Tuesday it’s 66-man roster for the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and six BCHL players have been included.

Victoria Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook and Grizzlies defenceman Jacson Alexander, Penticton Vees forward Massimo Rizzo and Vees defenceman Luke Reid, Vernon Vipers forward Alex Swetlikoff and Chilliwack forward Harrison Blaisdell will represent the BCHL at the event.

CLICK HERE to view the full Canadian roster

The U17 tournament features what is right now believed to be the best 2001-born players in the country. The Canadian players will be divided into three teams, Canada Red, Black and White, and compete for gold against teams from Finland, Czech Republic, United States, Russia and Sweden.

The players chosen to compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge were selected by Brad McEwen (Whitewood, Sask.), Hockey Canada’s head scout, in consultation with U17 Program of Excellence management group lead Steve Staios (Hamilton, Ont./Hamilton, OHL), along with regional scouts Carl Bouchard (Quebec), Barclay Branch (Ontario), Barclay Parneta (West), Kevin Mitchell (Atlantic), and Darrell Woodley (Ontario).

“There is a strong, talented, and skilled group of players to choose from and we feel the 66 we have selected are a great representation of the depth of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence,” said McEwen. “These young men have demonstrated an ability to learn, grow, and develop while giving Canada the best chance at bringing home gold on Canadian ice.”

The tournament runs Nov. 5 to 11 and will be co-hosted by Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. The event opener will be played at the Encana Events Centre in an all-Canadian affair as last year’s silver-medallist, Team Canada Black, takes on Team Canada White at 2:30 p.m. MT (1:30 p.m. ET). The opening day concludes with Sweden facing Russia at North Peace Arena in Fort St. John.

More than 1,600 NHL draft picks have suited up since the inception of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 1986 (previously known as the Quebec Esso Cup), including 13 of the last 16 first-overall draft picks (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006, Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014; Connor McDavid, 2015 and Auston Matthews, 2016).

Fans can take advantage of the best ticketing option by purchasing the full-tournament package, which includes all 14 games at the Encana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, or all 12 games at the North Peace Arena in Fort St. John.

TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters for Hockey Canada, will air one semifinal and the bronze- and gold-medal games; please check local listings for details.