Canada and gold medals are synonymous when it comes to international hockey.
Especially with the recently rebranded Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a tournament in which the Great White North has finished first place 10 times in the past 11 years.
This summer, Team Canada will look to make it three consecutive gold medal wins, led by Vancouver Giants bench boss Michael Dyck, who when camp opens Friday will be tasked with selecting the final roster before the puck drops on Aug. 5 for the tournament opener. It’s a relatively short window to finalize selections, covering three practices and as many intrasquad games, meaning the invitees, including 41 from across the Canadian Hockey League, will need to act quick to make a lasting impression.
Among the group, some players enter the camp with a possible added advantage in having previously been involved in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence with the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, offering them a unique understanding of Team Canada’s desired playing style, the team identity it strives to achieve, and the expectations that come with wearing the Maple Leaf jersey.
“We have an identity that we have formulated, not only based on what we identify as being winning components to a gold medal team – it’s based on past teams and we want to stick to that identity,” Dyck told the Canadian Hockey League. “The only way that we are going to be able to play to that identity is if we have 22 players who can emulate that, so we build a foundation with that. A lot of that foundation comes with habits and those are the kinds of things that we are going to be looking for.”
In many ways, making the final cut for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup squad is a stepping stone between Hockey Canada’s top programs, bridging players from the U17 to the ever-popular IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. As such, familiarity with the program breeds a knowledge of the style of players required to fill out the tournament-bound lineup.
“It’s not all going to be based on individual skill or goal scoring,” Dyck explained. “We’re going to need some size, we’re going to need some defencemen who can play well in their own zone and who are reliable on the defensive side of the puck, and some who can play the power play and create offense. We’re going to need some forwards who can create energy and who are very good at killing penalties, and some who can finish around the net.
“We’re looking at not only selecting the best players, but we want to have a well-rounded team. At the end of the day, you’re going to see what players fit what role, and the next determination will be if they accept that role.”
For more of Dyck’s comments ahead of camp, visit CHL.ca.
16 OHL PLAYERS ATTENDING CANADA’S NATIONAL SUMMER UNDER-18 TEAM SELECTION CAMP:
Jamie Drysdale (D)
Evan Vierling (C)
Logan Morrison (C)
Jake Murray (D)
Donovan Sebrango (D)
North Bay Battalion:
Joe Vrbetic (G)
Lleyton Moore (D)
Ty Tullio (RW)
Will Cranley (G)
Tristan Lennox (G)
Cole Perfetti (LW)
Jacob Perreault (RW)
Ryan O’Rourke (D)
Quinton Byfield (C)
Will Cuylle (LW)
Jean-Luc Foudy (C)
For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team and the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on Facebook, Twitter and Twitter.com/HC_Men.