The four Western Provincial Hockey Associations – Hockey Alberta, BC Hockey, Hockey Manitoba and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association – in partnership with the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Moose Jaw Warriors are pleased to announce the players and coaching staff competing in the 2011 Western Canada Under 16 Challenge Cup.
The Western Canada Under 16 Challenge Cup will be held at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, SK, October 27 – 30, and will feature the highest rated players in the Under 16 age category representing the four Western Provinces of Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The four team round robin tournament format will assist the four Western Provincial Hockey Associations in evaluating these top prospects for future Program of Excellence competitions.
Each Provincial Team was selected by a committee within each of the four Western Provincial Hockey Associations following evaluation camps held throughout this past summer and consist of 20 players – two goalies, six defenceman and 12 forwards. Of the 80 players selected to compete in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, 69 are top WHL prospects selected in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft including BC’s Jake Virtanen, selected 1st overall by the Calgary Hitmen; Alberta’s Brycen Martin, selected 2nd overall by the Swift Current Broncos, Saskatchewan’s Ryan Pilon, selected 3rd overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Manitoba’s Jordan Thomson, selected 4th overall by the Kamloops Blazers. In total, 20 1st round selections from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, and 16 2nd round picks were selected to compete.
The first ever Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup was held in Blackfalds, Alberta in 2009 and was highly successful due largely to the support of the local community and Hockey Alberta. Of the 80 players who competed in the event in 2009, 50 are now playing in the WHL including top rated prospects for the 2012 NHL Draft; Matt Dumba (Red Deer Rebels), Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat Tigers), Derek Pouliot (Portland Winterhawks), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Morgan Reilly (Moose Jaw Warriors). These same five players recently helped Canada’s National Under 18 team to a Gold Medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament held this past summer.