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Genoe departs for World Junior A Challenge

After a final practice with his team, Kevin Genoe packed up his gear and headed out to the airport to meet up with the rest of his new team.

For the next two weeks, Genoe and twenty-four other select players from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will compete in the World Junior A Challenge as members of Team Canada West. A total of twenty-five players were selected to come out for the pre-tournament phase of the event; only twenty-two will go on to play in the third annual tournament. For Genoe, this is a like a dream and he is enjoying the opportunity to soak every minute of it up.

“I just want to represent myself, my hometown and the Spruce Kings to the best of my ability,” stated a composed Genoe, before heading off Tuesday morning. “This is going to be a wonderful experience and I just want to perform to the best of my abilities. Hopefully we can bring the gold back with us.”

In the previous two editions of the World Junior A Challenge, Team Canada West came out on top to win gold both times and both times there was a member of the Spruce Kings on the team. With the chance to three-peat, the pressure to put together a strong team this year was evident in the selection process. Team Canada West coaches and scouting staffs started the process of identify likely participants almost as soon as last year's tournament ended. The selection process for Team Canada West involved evaluation camps and extensive scouting through the second half of last season and the off-season

“The players that we have selected for Team Canada West are the ones that we feel will give us the best opportunity to win a third consecutive gold medal,” said Boris Rybalka, returning head coach for Team Canada West, in a recent Hockey Canada press release. “There are so many good players in the West, which made the selection process very difficult. We are excited to have narrowed the list down to the group of players who we feel will best represent our team in the 2008 World Junior A Challenge.”

Up first for Kevin Genoe and the rest of Team Canada West will be a pair of exhibition games starting tonight against Augustana College beginning at 6:00pm PST at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose, Alberta. On Friday, Team Canada West will wrap up their pre-tournament schedule with an all Canadian matchup against Team Canada East at 7:00pm PST at the Viking Carena Centre in Viking, Alberta.

Team Canada West will then have to make three cuts to bring their tournament roster down to 22 prior to starting tournament play on Sunday against Belarus.