A pair of Langley Rivermen are about to audition to play for Team Canada West.
Forward Ryan Barrow and defenceman Cameron Ginnetti are among the 100 players from across the country heading to selection camps in advance of the 2016 World Junior A Challenge.
The invitations are from the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) working in partnership with Hockey Canada.
The World Junior A Challenge — a showcase of Canadian and international Junior A talent — comes to Alberta for the second time in tournament history when Bonnyville welcomes the event Dec. 11-17.
The event will feature two Canadian teams — Team Canada East and Team Canada West — and four international entries which will go for gold in Bonnyville.
In Leduc, Alta., 60 players — including Barrow and Ginnetti — will gather next week (Dec. 5 to 8) to take part in intrasquad games and practices in the hopes of cracking Team Canada West’s final line-up.
Barrow, 19, a 6’2” 170 pound centre from Banff, Alta., leads the Rivermen with 36 points.
He is bound for Dartmouth (NCAA Div. 1) in 2018/19.
“I’m pretty thrilled,” Barrow said, about the invite. “I’ve had a pretty good start so it’s nice to get rewarded for it, for sure.”
The World Junior A Challenge wasn’t even on Barrow’s radar until just recently.
“I heard the tourney was coming around again so just to get invited (to training camp) was awesome,” he said.
His game plan going into camp is to “try my best to make the team and show them everything I’ve got.”
If he makes the team, this will be Barrow’s first opportunity to wear Canada’s colours.
“That’s something new and really exciting, for sure,” he said.
This season, like the upcoming camp, has been all about opportunity — and making the most out of it while playing on a line with skilled forwards Brendan Budy and (until he was injured), Max Kaufman.
“Last year, I started to heat up,” Barrow said.
“I got used to the league after Christmas. It took a while to get used to the league. This year, with all the (graduating) forwards leaving … I credit the coaches for giving me the opportunity and my linemates have made it easier this year.
“The points are just an extra.”
The Vancouver-born Ginnetti, 18, is the top scoring defenceman in the BCHL with 29 points, and leads all blueliners with 26 helpers.
The 5’11” 190-pound, right-handed shooting Ginnetti is committed to Clarkson University (NCAA Div. 1) next season.
And while it’s an honour to get invited, Ginnetti says he wasn’t all that surprised about getting the call.
“I’m having a really good year this year, and at the start of the year, my goal was to get the invite,” he said.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to camp.”
Ginnetti knows what he has to do to get noticed in Leduc.
“I just have to go in there and be confident,” he said.
“A huge part of making the team is playing with confidence, proving myself to coaches, and leaving it all out there on the ice.”
Ginnetti has already doubled his point output from last season, when he tallied 14 points in 49 games.
“I credit my teammates with that,” he said. “They’ve been helping me out.
“The team’s doing all right. Our goal is turning it around and getting more wins.”
The Leduc Recreation Centre will host all scheduled games and practices in advance of the final roster selections for Team Canada West.
“Coaches from all five leagues representing Team Canada West assisted in identifying players which will make for a fast-paced, very competitive selection camp,” said Trevor Alto, director of operations for Team Canada West.
“The focus is on competition for the 22 roster spots; however, the staff is dedicated to providing each invitee every opportunity to not only put their best foot forward, but to also enjoy the opportunity to represent Team Canada West.”
Team Canada West players are selected from among the league’s five western Junior A leagues: the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
Coquitlam Express head coach Barry Wolff — who was previously an associate head coach with the Langley Chiefs — will serve as Team Canada West’s head coach.
The World Junior A Hockey Challenge runs Dec. 11 to 17 in Bonnyville, Alta.