Many hockey players dream of getting to put on a Team Canada jersey and represent their country and two Victoria Grizzlies will have that dream come true this year.
Forward Alex Newhook from St. John’s, Newfoundland and homegrown defencemen Jacson Alexander, both 16, will play for Canada Black during the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, B.C. Other teams include the United States, Canada White, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Canada Red and Sweden.
A total of 66 players will suit up for Canada in northern B.C. from Nov. 5 to 11.
Sweden defeated Canada Black 2-1 in 2016 to claim their second U17 gold medal in history at the tournament in Sault St. Marie, Ontario while Canada White fell 6-1 to Russia in the bronze medal game.
Understandably, Canada will be looking to have a stronger finish this time around and the two Grizzlies players are excited for the opportunity.
“It was pretty special to find out that we got to represent Canada,” Newhook said. “It’s something that anyone wants to do growing up and it’s always something you look forward to doing if you ever get the chance to and I think it’s going to be really special playing in the tournament.”
Alexander said watching Canada play growing up made him hope he would one day earn a shot to wear the maple leaf.
“It was pretty cool [finding out],” he said. “Growing up, you always dream of that. You watch the World Juniors and it’s one stop closer to that so hopefully just keep plugging away and make it there one day.”
Newhook has committed to Boston College while Alexander has committed to the University of Denver for their college careers.
For the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, both players will be away from the Grizzlies for two weeks while the tournament takes place.
Head coach Craig Didmon said the two will be missed but he and the rest of the team are thrilled for them.
“They will be missed in the lineup for sure,” he said. “However, I know the rest of the players are happy for their success and wish them the best of luck. Both players work extremely hard and show great maturity for their age. They both deserve this opportunity.”
Didmon added that Hockey Canada is a great chance for Newhook and Alexander to come back with new perspectives and skills.
“I think it will be great for their development. Hockey Canada has so much to offer these players with this opportunity,” he said.
“I expect both players to come back having gained knowledge and experience and be an even better player.”