Hockey Canada will ice a more youthful ice sledge hockey team this season; the 19-player roster that will wear the storied logo in international competition in 2016-17 was revealed on Saturday.
The selections were made by head coach Ken Babey, based on an intense, five-day selection camp held at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park this week featuring 29 players from across Canada.
“Selection camp is always an intense time for players and staff – we have a very tight schedule, and a short window to work with, but I was very impressed with how everyone handled the pressure. To a tee, each and every one of the players who arrived here last Sunday carried themselves with the poise and professionalism that I expect from a Team Canada player, and that provides us, as a coaching and management staff, a great sense of pride to witness,” said Babey. “In the end, all of them will take away some level of growth and development from the experience. And for the 19 who were selected to represent their country as part of Canada's National Sledge Team, I want them to take a few days to enjoy this hard-won accomplishment before we resume our preparation for this season’s events.”
Among the youth movement are two players born in 2000 – forwards James Dunn and Zach Savage – as well as several others who are in their early twenties, including Rob Armstrong, Tyrone Henry, and Kevin Sorley on defence, and forwards Dominic Cozzolino, Ben Delaney, and Tyler McGregor.
The speed and skill of the youngsters will be balanced with high-skilled experience from returning veterans such as Paralympic gold medallists and world champions Brad Bowden, Billy Bridges and Greg Westlake to set Canada’s National Sledge Team on a path to compete against the best countries in the world.
Westlake resumes his role as team captain, which he first assumed in the 2011-12 season. He will be joined by full-time alternate captain McGregor, while Adam Dixon and Bryan Sholomicki will split duties as alternates.
In the lead-up to its participation at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, from 4-10 December, the team is also confirmed to return to Bridgewater, for a preparation camp between 10-16 November. Team Canada’s return to Bridgewater is part of the legacy the community has built since hosting the World Sledge Hockey Challenge last January.
Also on the calendar this season are the 4 Nations Cup in Italy in February 2017.