Team Canada’s Alberta Boys
2 years ago
Life is getting a little crazy, again, here in Alberta. With new restrictions put in place on Tuesday, the residents of the province are in desperate need of a break from reality. Luckily for all of us, the World Juniors continue to push ahead and look to drop the puck on Boxing Day when Germany and Finland go head-to-head at Rogers Place.
It doesn’t matter what part of the country you are from, once you put on the Maple Leaf, the country is behind you. Of course, there are a few players you cheer for a little harder. Since 2000, 88 players from Alberta have represented Team Canada at the World Juniors, giving us an average of four players each year. This year, Alberta is heavily represented with seven players, tied for the most with the 2018 roster since 2000.
In 2018, Canada went on to win their 17th championship beating Sweden 3-1 in the final. Sylvan Lake native Tyler Steenbergen scored the game-winner that night, and between the pipes, Sherwood Park’s Carter Hart turned aside 35 of the Swede’s 36 shots.
Hart was phenomenal throughout that tournament, finishing with a 1.81 GAA, 0.930 SV% and a shutout. Canada will be hoping for much of the same from Hart’s fellow Alberta native Sebastian Cossa.
Cossa is from Fort McMurray, in Northern Alberta, and plays junior hockey with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has dominated for the Oil Kings and is a significant factor as to why they are such a great team. Heading into the tournament, Cossa has a 0.924 SV% and a 2.26 GAA in 21 games which puts him in the top five of both categories amongst the league’s best. He played for Team Canada once before back in 2018 at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Cossa will be hoping for better results this time around after they were eliminated in the Quarter Finals.
A few other members of this Team Canada roster were on that team, too, including his Oil Kings captain Jake Neighbours. Neighbours is an Airdrie native that the St Louis Blues selected 26th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Blues kept Neighbours around for the early season, playing him nine games. He grabbed his first NHL goal against the LA Kings and was then sent back to junior a few games later. Once he arrived back in Edmonton, the Oil Kings quickly named him team captain. Team Canada opted to make the same decision handing Neighbours an “A” for the tournament. It’s not the first time he’s been named a captain of Team Canada, either. Back at the previously mentioned World U17 Hockey Challenge, Neighbours was the captain of Team Canada White. This season, the Airdrie native hasn’t missed a beat since returning and is well on pace to smash his career highs with 18 points in ten games.
Two more Oil Kings made the final cuts, including Canada’s captain. Before Captain Canada, however, Dylan Guenther is playing in his home city for this tournament and is a player to watch. Guenther is an elite playmaking forward selected 9th overall by the Arizona Coyotes. Junior hockey fans in Western Canada are very familiar with Guenther’s abilities. In three seasons with the Oil Kings, he has 57 goals and 119 points in 103 games. Right now, he’s skating on the fourth line for Team Canada with Elliot Desnoyers and Will Cuylle. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in the top six sooner rather than later.
The final member of the Edmonton Oil Kings to make this team is Kaiden Guhle. Guhle was a team member that lost 2-0 to Team USA in the final last year in Edmonton. He’s playing not too far from his hometown of Sherwood Park, a suburb of Alberta’s capital. Not only will his family be able to see him play in person now, but they’ll also be watching him play with the “C” on his chest. Guhle had a good tournament with Canada in 2020 playing in all seven games and scoring a couple of goals. Both of those goals came in the round-robin stage against Germany and Switzerland. More offence should be expected from Guhle this time around. Guhle is one of three NHL first-rounders on the blueline, along with Owen Power (1st overall 2021 by Buffalo) and Carson Lambos (26th overall 2021 by Minnesota).
Staying on the blueline, the Everett Silvertips have a couple of representatives on this year’s team. It’s the first time since Carter Hart was selected in 2018 that a Silvertip has made the cut. Olen Zellweger is one of the bluelines from Everett, and he is having an outstanding season. Zellweger has the best points per game average by a defenceman in the WHL with a 1.23. He has seven goals and 27 points in 22 games and has already surpassed his career-high of 13. The Fort Saskatchewan native represented Canada at last year’s World Under-18 Championship in Texas. He has been skating with Owen Power on the top pair of Dave Cameron’s blueline.
Joining Zellweger is Ronan Seeley. Seeley is the first player from Olds, Alberta, to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Seeley is the captain of the Silvertips and is now in his fourth year with the organization. Like Zellweger, he’s found his offensive groove and looks to be on his way to creating new career highs for himself. Seeley is playing at just under a point per game rate with 22 points in 24 games. In the 2020 NHL Draft, the Olds native was selected 208th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. He is projected to start the tournament as the 7th or 8th defenceman.
The final Albertan on the roster is Lethbridge’s very own, Ridly Greig. Greig is playing in Manitoba for the Brandon Wheat Kings. After returning from the Ottawa Senators, Greig received the “C” making him the 66th captain in Wheat Kings history. In only 19 games, he’s second on the team with 28 points, trailing only Nolan Ritchie, who has 36. Greig plays with a ton of energy which Canada will be looking for him to bring in those tougher matchups against the Russians, Americans, and Swedes. His style of play could quickly make him one of the fan favourites.
That’s a wrap; these seven Albertans will represent Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championships. Although the capacity is restricted, it’s still going to be exciting to have fans back in the building for this fantastic event. Enjoy the tournament, and Happy Holidays!
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