With only a few weeks away from the 2018 Winter Olympics, many Canadians, especially those who are devout hockey fans, have been wondering how Team Canada Men’s Hockey will continue its run for their third straight gold medal. The answer: elite players handpicked from several leagues from across North America and Europe.
From Former NHLers to AHL standouts, the roster is composed of a total of 25 players, with 14 forwards, eight defence and three goaltenders. Of the 25 players, 13 currently play in Russia’s Kontintenal Hockey League, while the remaining were picked from the American Hockey League and other European teams.
Some names may be familiar such as Alberta native Rene Bourque, a former forward for the Calgary Flames from 2008-2012. Last year, in the 2016-2017 season, he played 65 games with the Colorado Avalanche. Others include Derek Roy, an Ontario native, and ex-Edmonton Oiler centre, and most recent ex-Edmonton Oiler and Alberta native Ben “The Professor” Scrivens.
The remaining 22 players on the team roster include: forward Gilbert Brule (North Vancouver, BC); forward Wojtek Wolski, (Toronto, ON); forward Chris Kelly, (Toronto, ON); forward Rob Klinkhammer, (Lethbridge, AB); forward Brandon Kozun (Calgary, AB); forward Quinton Howden (Oakbank, MB); forward Andrew Ebbett (Vernon, BC); forward Mason Raymond (Cochrane, AB); forward Eric O’Dell (Ottawa, ON); forward Maxim Lapierre (Brossard, QB);forward Linden Vey (Wakaw, SK); forward Christian Thomas (Toronto, ON); defence Karl Stollery (Camrose, AB); defence Chris Lee (MacTier, ON); defence Chay Genoway (Morden, MB); defence Marc-Andre Gragnani (Lile-Bizard, QB); defence Stan Elliot (Vancouver, BC); defence Cody Goloubef (Oakville, ON); defence Mat Robinson (Calgary, AB); defence Maxim Noreau (Montreal, QB); goaltender Kevin Poulin (Montreal, QB); and goaltender Justin Peters of Blyth, Ontario.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be the first time in 23 years since NHL players will not be participating at the Winter games. The last time such a situation occurred was at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. However, according to sources such as CBC, the International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel has already begun to advocate for NHL players to be able to participate in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China.
For the 2018 team, Hockey Canada officials used three pre-Olympic European tournaments to evaluate potential players. The three tournaments include the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup and the Spengler Cup. Out of the 25-man roster, 21 of the players have appeared in at least one NHL game. Forward Chris Kelly leads the way with 833 regular season appearances; also, under his belt is one Stanley Cup championship (with the Boston Bruins in 2011) and a total of 123 NHL goals and 289 points.
Team Canada’s training camp starts January 28th in Riga, Latvia. Exhibition commences on February 4th against Latvia and February 6th against Belarus. Afterwards, the team will fly to Pyeongchang to participate in the opening ceremonies before playing Sweden in a warmup match on February 12, 2018.
With Canada tasting gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2014 Sochi Olympics, hockey athletes and fans alike are hoping to taste the gold once again at these Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Make sure to tune in to the radio or television to watch the winter sporting events or catch up on the game highlights. The hockey tournament begins February 14th and goes until the 25th at the Gangneung Hockey Centre and the Kwangdong Hockey Centre.