Five Trail Smoke Eaters will compete for a spot on Team Canada West next month, as Hockey Canada prepares for the World Jr. A Challenge held in Dawson Creek from Dec. 7-15. From left: Kent Johnson, Owen Ozar, Philippe Lapointe, Logan Terness, and Powell Connor will attend the camp in Calgary from Dec. 1-3.

Five Smoke Eaters invited to compete for spots on Team Canada West

Smoke Eaters send unprecedented number of players to World Jr. A Challenge selection camp

Five Trail Smoke Eaters players will compete for a spot on Team Canada West for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge in Dawson Creek.

Hockey Canada unveiled its 44-invites to the selection camp, which included Smoke Eaters captain Philippe Lapointe, assistant captains Kent Johnson and Powell Connor, forward Owen Ozar, and goaltender Logan Terness. The camp takes place in Calgary from Dec. 1-3 before a final team roster is picked, prior to the Dec. 7 start vs the USA.

“Our organization is very proud to send five of our best players to the Canada West camp,” said head coach and GM Jeff Tambellini. “Each of these young men have had an outstanding start to the season and we’re looking forward to watching them compete for roster spots in Calgary.”

Related read: Ross Armour’s OT goal lifts Canada West past East

The players were selected from the CJHL’s five western Junior A leagues including the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), BC Hockey League (BCHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). In all, the two western-most leagues contributed the most players with 23 of the 44 players selected coming from the BCHL and 12 from the AJHL.

Since making his return from injury Lapointe has amassed 19 points in 11 games for the Smokies and has the second highest points-per-game at 1.73 in the BCHL. Kent Johnson continues to lead the BCHL in all aspects, with 20 goals and 30 assists. He’s already passed his point total from last year (46 in 57 games) with 50 points in 28 games played.

Powell Connor is the lone Smoke Eaters defenceman selected to the camp. The Vernon native has been a rock on the back end for the Smoke Eaters, with two goals and 13 assists. Connor also plays a key part on the Smoke Eaters penalty kill, which sits in fourth in the BCHL.

Ozar, who is sixth in BCHL scoring with 12 goals and 21 assists, has an uncanny ability around the net. Ozar’s speed and puck retrieval skills has made him a threat from Day-1 of the BCHL season.

Goaltender Logan Terness is one of four goalies named to the camp. Terness has emerged as a top goaltender in the BCHL this year. The 17-year-old rookie from Burnaby is the youngest among the leading goalies, yet, boasts some of the top numbers. In 21 games, Terness is 12-4-2-2 with a .936 save percentage and a 2.23 goals-against average. Terness has the second best save percentage among goalies with 15 or more games played.

The Smoke Eaters send a league high, tied with Chilliwack, for the most players named to the Canada West roster.

Five teams will compete in the tournament including Team Canada West, Team Canada East, USA, Russian and Czech Republic.

Canada West last won gold at the Jr. A Challenge in 2017 when Smoke Eater forward and Rossland native Ross Armour led the team to a 5-1 victory over the USA in the final. Smokies defenceman Seth Barton was also key in Team Canada West’s fifth gold-medal win since World Jr. A Challenge’s inception in 2006.

Related read: Canada West captures gold at WJAC

Canada West will play an exhibition game against Russia on Dec. 5 in Fort St. John prior to the start of the tournament.

The five Smoke Eaters players will head to Calgary for the main camp, with the tournament going from Dec. 7 to 15 in Dawson Creek.

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