|Kale Clague (left), Nolan Patrick (center) and Tanner Kaspick |
are at the U17's for the next ten days
The Brandon Wheat Kings are well represented at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that begins this weekend in Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario.
Brandon top three picks in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, 16-year olds Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick, are suiting up for Canada at the eight-team tournament.
Patrick is playing with the Canada-Red team while Clague played with Canada-Black and Kaspick with Canada-White.
“Being teammates for the last two months here, it’s going to be weird going there and playing against them and being rivals with them,” said Kaspick earlier this week, “Hopefully, my experience ends up being a little bit better than theirs.”
Among Kaspick’s teammates on the Canada-White team will be Oakbank product Brett Howden of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
The duo being two of the four Manitobans at the event, with Patrick and fellow Winnipeg product Ryan Kubic the others.
“I’ve played a lot of hockey with Brett growing up, and I’m actually really good friends with him,” said Kaspick, “It’s going to be nice to get a chance to play with him again, it’ll probably be one of the last chance I’ll get to play with him for the rest of my life.”
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is the first event in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, a program that quite likely culminates in being part of Canada’s entry into the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Dreaming that far ahead is something Kaspick has already done.
“When you’re growing up, that’s what you’re watching – you’re watching the World Juniors with the family after Christmas and stuff. I think that’s always been the dream, and this kind of leads into it,” said Kaspick, who has four assists in nine games with Brandon this season, “That makes it that much more exciting, just to wear the Maple Leaf like you’ve seen it worn by so many great players, I think is really exciting and one of the main things I’m looking forward to.”
The tournament doesn’t officially begin until Sunday but all three Canadian teams will play exhibition games on Friday night.
This year marks the first time the tournament won't take place just after Christmas, and also marks the first time the Canadian entries will be done in Black, Red and White teams instead of regionalized teams like Team Western or Team Pacific.
A fourth member of the Wheat Kings, Ty Lewis, attended Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Summer Development Camp in August but was not selected to participate in the tournament.
Lewis likely wouldn’t have been able to anyway, as the 16-year old remains sidelined with a broken arm that he suffered during training camp and then re-injured during his rehabilitation.