Hockey Canada announced last week that Surrey Eagles head coach Brandon West and Merritt Centennials head coach Joe Martin will be behind the bench as assistants with Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC).
The event is set to take place this year from December 9 to 15 at the R.J. Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville, Alta.
The team’s head coach will be Rick Swan (Bonnyville, AJHL) who was an assistant on the 2017 squad under Mike Reagan. Martin, who was also an assistant along with Swan last year, and West will both play key roles in Team Canada West’s effort to repeat as gold medalists.
“The coaches selected to lead Team Canada East and Team Canada West demonstrate the level of talent and strength we have in those key leadership and mentorship roles within the Canadian Junior Hockey League,” said CJHL president Brent Ladds. “Their participation as part of the two Canadian teams at the World Junior A Challenge will not only be beneficial to the players they’ll be working with, but to their club teams as they bring what they’ve learned from each other back home.”
The 33-year-old West took over as head coach of the Eagles last season, leading the team to a 26-22-8 record. He coached the Eagles to their first playoff appearance in four seasons, and first series win since 2013.
Martin, 37, began with the Cents in the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach, working alongside Luke Pierce. Martin took over the head coach and general manager role in Merritt starting in the 2015-16 season.
The World Junior A Challenge is made possible thanks to the partnership between Hockey Canada, the CJHL, and NHL Central Scouting, and features two Canadian teams, representing East and West, as well as four international teams vying for a gold medal.
Ten of the 12 gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge have featured at least one Canadian team. Last season, Ross Armour and Seth Barton represented the Trail Smoke Eaters at the WJAC and led Team West to the gold medal.
Team Canada West also won gold at the first two tournaments in 2006 and in Trail in 2007, and in 2011, 2015, and 2017. The team won silver medals in 2008, 2009, and 2012, and bronze in 2013.
Team Canada East won silver medals in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2016, as well as claiming the bronze medal in 2008.