CALGARY, A.B. – With action set to get underway next week, Hockey Canada has finalized the rosters for the three Canadian teams participating at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie next week.
Fort St. John native Tristen Nielsen will be playing for Team Canada White, which will be coached by Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach and former Calgary Hitmen Assistant General Manager Brent Kisio. Nielsen, who currently has one assist in five games playing in his first full season with the Hitmen, says that he’s incredibly excited going into the tournament, especially playing for the team that won the U17 in Dawson Creek last year.
In addition to playing for the Hitmen, Nielsen is also a veteran of playing internationally, when he represented Canada at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer earlier this year. He said that the he feels that the experience has given him an advantage over some of the other players that tried out, knowing some of the Hockey Canada staff, their methods, and their expectations. He added that he’s excited to play with Joe Veleno, who is the only player that will be returning to the U17’s this year, this time playing for Canada White. He will also be bringing in his WHL experience, which he says has far more structure in terms of learning new positions and new skills than Midget hockey that he’s played up until this year.
Nielsen said that apart from the hockey itself, he is also looking forward to meeting the other players representing both Canada and the other five countries at the tournament, learning who the competition will be going forward into the NHL Entry Draft in several years’ time. After leaving for Sault St. Marie next Monday, Nielsen will be spending the week practicing before Canada White’s first preliminary round game on Thursday against Canada Red. The team begins the tournament on October 30th at 4:00 p.m. EST against Canada Black.
The Essar Centre and John Rhodes Community Centre will play host to the eight teams who will gut it out during seven days of competition in the hopes of securing gold for their country. Team Canada Black, Team Canada White, the Czech Republic and United States will play in Group A, while Team Canada Red, Finland, Russia and Sweden will comprise Group B.