December is known for the world coming together during the Christmas holidays for the World Junior Hockey Championships, this year taking place in Malmo, Sweden. However there are many other IIHF events leading up to the World Juniors, one of them being the World Jr A. Challenge.
The Challenge is an international tournament for tier 2 junior squads across the country and will take place in Yarmouth, NS as a lead-up to the marquee WJHC, with the event starting in November. While many countries send their best crop of talent, Canada traditionally sends two clubs – Canada East and Canada West – in an effort to make the tournament more competitive.
With the talent pool becoming larger, the CCHL has in turn has a bigger presence at Canada East’s selection camp - starting at the coaching staff, with Cornwall’s Ian MacInnis and Nepean’s Peter Goulet both making their way into the staff roster of the east group.
Moving to the ice, click here to see a list of CCHLers occupying selection camp roster spot.
With 22 players having roster spots, the CCHL is 2nd among the Eastern Canada Jr. A leagues in that category, only trailing the OJHL (28).
Among selections from individual teams, the Cornwall Colts lead the pack. As noted in the linked article by ITO’s own Ashley March, the Colts may find themselves leading that list due to MacInnis leading the coaching staff.
This is a very real possibility; however I don’t attribute it to hockey politics. The Colts only find themselves behind the powerhouse Carleton Place Canadians in the CCHL’s Robinson standings and have many impressive players on their roster. While MacInnis knows those players more, I don’t think they’re undeserved selections.
There are only two 97-born players on the roster, coming in the form of Kris Myllari and Chase Pearson. Myllari, a defender from the Kanata Stallions, has recently committed to Penn State University. With this camp invite, the 2013-14 season has proven to be very good for the resume of the Senators AAA graduate.
Carleton Place has a decent contingent of players making it onto the roster, including crafty forward Evan Peterson, who has quietly become one of the better players in the CCHL this year, sneaking into a tie for the league lead in scoring along with import teammate Andy Sturtz. They are currently both sitting at 29 points.
It’s tough to say who will be on the final roster due to the unpredictability of players from other leagues, but Evan Peterson should make the team fairly easily.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Jesse Blais earn recognition and a spot on the camp roster. As the sole member from Kemptville to slide in, Blais has a nose for the net and a decent ability to get pucks behind goaltenders. With his Pt/G pace that we are currently seeing, it’s no surprise that Blais has made the selection camp – I often find him to be one of the more underrated players in the CCHL.
I’d expect many of these roster selections to make it all the way onto Team Canada East, simply because of Ian MacInnis and Peter Goulet making up a strong CCHL presence in the coaching staff. Not only that, but the fast, intense game of the CCHL matches up well against international hockey teams.
The tournament goes from November 4th-10th at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth. Camp will start shortly.