I have never considered myself a source of breaking news ... but it almost seems that way with this story. Spruce Kings alumni Justin Fillion and RJay Berra recently received and accepted selection invites to represent Canada in a basically all BCHL team in four team tournament. The Russian Invitational Tournament is scheduled for April 15-17 in Podolsk, Russia.
The process of making sure all the "T's" are crossed and the "I's" dotted has left some people overly cautious but still confident that the tournament will be a go with an expected departure from Vancouver on April 8th. Passports and legal documents have to be in order for a team that will consist of twenty players and the staff.
Hockey Canada was invited to enter a squad after being contacted by Russian goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak. Ron Paterson of the Surrey Eagles is the team's General Manager and has been working hard at making sure that this event will become a reality for a list of players that have familiar names in the BCHL. For many of these players it will be their first chance to wear a Team Canada jersey and represent a country that is synonymous with the game of hockey.
"We're incredibly excited to be making this trip and giving these young men an opportunity to represent their country," said Team Canada general manager Ron Paterson. "It's been a lot of planning and paperwork but I'm sure it will be more than worthwhile once we get there."
Podolsk is a town of over 180,000 people situated about 50 kilometres south of Moscow. Each team in this event will play three games with each game being a three point contest in an IIHF round-robin format. The team with the most total points at the end will be declared the winner.
Leading up to the Tournament, Team Canada will have a pair of practices in Surrey before leaving Canadian soil on April 8th. After arriving in Russia there will be a few more opportunities to practice and one exhibition game. Team Canada will play one game on each day of the Tournament - April 15, 16 and 17. The actual opponent for those specific dates has not yet been determined.
The Canadian team is one of four teams with the other three teams expected to be the Russian National Junior Team, a Russian Select Team and the Slovakian National Junior Team. Made up of players coming from the BCHL, Team Canada consists of two 16 year olds, seven 18 year olds, six 19 year olds and five 20 year olds. The squad will be coached by Tim Kehler, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks bench boss and the 2011 BCHL Interior Conference Coach of the Year.
Talking with RJay Berra and Justin Fillion it is pretty obvious that this is being seen as an opportunity of a lifetime but also a chance to wear the Maple Leaf. It is an opportunity like this that makes all those early morning practices, hard hitting games and the daily grind of a junior hockey player all worthwhile.
With a majority of their junior careers played wearing the crown for the Prince George Spruce Kings, these two have already represented their hometown with respect and pride. Now they have a chance to represent Prince George, British Columbia and Canada in an International Tournament on foreign soil. Congratulations on being selected and good luck playing for Team Canada.
Position – Name (Home town/BCHL Club)
G – Khaleed Devji (West Vancouver, BC/Coquitlam Express)
G – Kris Moore (Calgary, Alta./Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
D – Troy Paterson (Surrey, BC/Cowichan Valley Capitals)
D – Justin Fillion (Prince George, BC/Victoria Grizzlies)
D – Brandon Pfeil (West Vancouver, BC/Merritt Centennials)
D – Mitch Jones (Delta, BC/Surrey Eagles)
D – Josh Manson (Prince Albert, Sask./Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
D – Jayson Reardon (Lumby, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – Brayden Jaw (Vancouver, BC/Nanaimo Clippers)
F – Mike Hammond (Victoria, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – Evan Richardson (Nanaimo, BC/Victoria Grizzlies)
F – Jake Charles (West Vancouver, BC/Coquitlam Express)
F – Austin Carroll (Vancouver, BC/Coquitlam Express)
F – Malcolm McKinney (West Vancouver, BC/Coquitlam Express)
F – RJay Berra (Prince George, BC/Prince George Spruce Kings)
F – Brett Knowles (Vanderhoof, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – Bryce Gervais (Battlefords, Sask./Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – Devin Gannon (Kamloops, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – David Killip (Kelowna, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
F – Jarryd Ten Vaanholt (West Vancouver, BC/Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
Head Coach – Tim Kehler, Salmon Arm SilverBacks
Assistant Coach – Colin O’Hara, Salmon Arm SilverBacks
General Manager – Ron Paterson, Surrey Eagles
Trainer – Wayne Hubbard
Massage Therapist – Larry Martin
Media relations – Eddie Gregory
Equipment Manager – Dan Ilich