Kootenay products up for Challenge

Two West Kootenay products have been invited to attend the Canada West selection camp in Langley.

Two West Kootenay products have been invited to attend the Canada West selection camp in Langley to prepare for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge next month.

Trail’s Travis St. Denis, a former Smoke Eater and current Penticton Vees forward, is one of four returning players from last year’s team while Castlegar native Aaron Hadley, a Vernon Viper, will also attend the camp.

St. Denis has had a torrid start to his 2011 campaign with the Vees and is second in the BCHL in scoring with 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 13 games.

St. Denis may be facing off against Penticton teammates Mario Lucia and Mike Reilly who were named to Team USA earlier this week. Lucia plays on a line with St. Denis and is third in BCHL scoring.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) invited 34 players representing the five western hockey leagues, with 18 coming from the BCHL.

The selection camp is scheduled for Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 at the Langley Events Centre, the same venue that will host the World Junior A Challenge from Nov. 7-13.

The players will be divided into two teams – Red and White – and will play a pair of inter-squad games, in addition to daily practices before the final roster is chosen.

“This was by no means an easy decision to get down to 34 players,” said Canada West coach Kent Lewis. “We had a tremendous talent pool to choose from, and we’re excited to give fans in Langley an early look at the players who will be representing Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.”

The selection camp roster was chosen by coach Lewis (Powell River), coach, along with assistant coaches Dean Brockman (SJHL) and Andrew Milne (AJHL).

Canada West will play in Group A, joined by Sweden and the United States, while Canada East, the Czech Republic and Russia will comprise Group B.

Preliminary round play will run until Nov. 9, with both semifinals taking place, Nov. 11. The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN/RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, is set for Sunday, Nov. 13.

Trail and Nelson hosted the World tournament in 2007 when Canada West won gold.

Canada West has appeared in four of the five gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenges before finishing in fourth place last year in Penticton.