British Columbia will be well-represented when Team Canada hits the ice at the upcoming 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.
On Friday, Hockey Canada announced its 25-player roster, and making the cut for the tournament in Edmonton were five players and three coaches with B.C. connections.
Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram was named to the team, for a second straight year, while Kelowna Rockets blue-liner Kaedan Korczak also made the grade.
Joining them were a pair of Kamloops Blazers, goalie Dylan Garand and forward Connor Zary, and one from the Prince George Cougars, goalie Taylor Gauthier.
Coaching-wise, there are three, all assistant coaches: Michael Dyck, head coach of the Vancouver Giants; Mitch Love of Quesnel, B.C., who is the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades; and Tyler Dietrich of West Vancouver, who is an assistant coach with Saskatoon.
Love, a former hard-nosed defenceman, was a key member of the Everett Silvertips in 2004 that upset the Memorial Cup-host Kelowna Rockets in the Western Conference championship that year. He later went on to become an assistant coach with Everett before becoming the Blades’ head coach in 2018.
Dietrich, a former centre, was also a member of Everett’s never-say-die squad in 2004, which lost to Medicine Hat in the league final.
This year’s selection camp was notable because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which forced a two-week quarantine shutdown.
The final roster includes three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 14 forwards.
Regionally, nine players from the WHL and a former player now in the NHL will wear red and white this holiday season.
- Taylor Gauthier of Calgary, Prince George Cougars
- Dylan Garand of Victoria, Kamloops Blazers
- Braden Schneider of Prince Albert, Sask., Brandon Wheat Kings
- Kaedan Korczak of Yorkton, Sask., Kelowna Rockets
- Bowen Byram of Cranbrook, Vancouver Giants
- Kaiden Guhle of Sherwood Park, Alta., Prince Albert Raiders
- Connor Zary of Saskatoon, Sask., Kamloops Blazers
- Peyton Krebs of Okotoks, Alta., Winnipeg Ice
- Dylan Cozens of Whitehorse, Yukon, Lethbridge Hurricanes
- Kirby Dach of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Chicago Blackhawks
- Head coach: André Tourigny of Nicolet, Que., Ottawa 67s, OHL
- Assistant coach: Michael Dyck of Lethbridge, Alta., Vancouver Giants, WHL
- Assistant coach: Mitch Love of Quesnel, B.C., Saskatoon Blades, WHL
- Assistant coach: Tyler Dietrich of West Vancouver, Saskatoon Blades, WHL
This year’s roster includes six returning players from the gold-medal winning squad from 2020, including Byram and Cozens.
The others are:
- Quinton Byfield of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves
- Jamie Drysdale of the OHL’s Erie Otters
- Connor McMichael of the OHL’s London Knights
- Dawson Mercer of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Hockey Canada says the final roster was a group decision involving seven people, including the coaching staff.
“This camp has been unconventional from the outset, with the number of players invited and the length of camp, along with the schedule adjustment due to our two-week shutdown,” said Alan Millar, general manager of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors who is also part of Hockey Canada’s U20 Program of Excellence team.
“But we feel we have selected a group that will give us the best chance to defend our gold medal on home ice.”
The 2021 IIHF WJHC begins on Christmas Day with three games before Canada kicks off its tournament schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany at 3 p.m. PT.
Canada has won the tournament 18 times since 1982, placed second 11 times and won bronze six times.