3 Sherwood Park Crusaders will be missing action this weekend and potentialy further into the early part of November, and for quite a very good reason.
Forwards Andrew Taverner and Nicholas Jones, along with Goaltender Tommy Nixon are in Calgary for the Canada West Selection Camp in preparation for the World Junior A Challenge November 4th to 10th in Yartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The Canada West camp is comprised of 66 players from the BCHL, AJHL, SJHL, MJHL and SIJHL. The Head Coach of Team Canada West is Jason McKee of the Spruce Grove Saints and will select 13 Forwards, 7 Defensemen and 2 Goalies to bring with him to the Maritimes.
At the time of the announcement, 23 AJHL players were invited to the camp, however, due to injuries, that number has skewed.
And unfortunately, one of those injuries is a Crusader. Defenseman Marshall Donald was the 4th Crusader to be invited to the camp, but will not be able to attend.
Crusader GM and Head Coach Tim Fragle will also be apart of the camp that runs October 26th to the 30th in Calgary, as apart of the evaluating process.
“Our guys are going have to have good camps to make this team, and show their high end character traits.” Fragle said of his 3 players and what they need to do to make the team.
One of the Crusaders coming into the camp, is coming in hot. Forward Nicholas Jones, who along with his recent commitment to Ohio State, is the reigning AJHL Player of The Week.
“[Jonesy] has been solid. He is a focused and consistent player, something that he will need to continue in this camp if he wants to wear the maple leaf.” Says Fragle of one of his leading scorers.
The camp will provide great opportunity for the 2014 NHL Draft eligible Forward.
“Going to the camp as a 17 year old is definitely a huge honor. I have heard lots from the guys who attended last year and I am preparing myself as much as I can. I am really excited for the opportunity to hopefully wear a Team Canada jersey and win gold.” Said Jones.
Jones will hopefully look to continue the point production him and line mate Andrew Taverner have had in the first 17 games of the 2013-14 AJHL season at the camp in Calgary. Jones and Taverner are tied for the team lead in scoring with the Crusaders. Jones with 12 goals and 22 points, and Taverner, 13 assists and 22 points.
Taverner also sees this camp as an opportunity, since it was thought he would be off to the NCAA at the end of last season.
“Real excited for an opportunity to wear the red and white. [I’ve] been wanting another try since last year and this will be my last opportunity to crack the team.” Taverner said.
An opportunity definitely presents itself with only 3 returning Forwards to the Canada West squad.
At the initial time of the camp list invites, 7 players from last year’s silver medal placing team were invited. 2 of them, Goaltenders. That might have made Crusader netminder Tommy Nixon and the other invited Goalies get the notion that Goaltending situation had already been decided.
However, since returning Goalie and Drumheller Dragon Curtis Skip has gone down with an injury and forced to pull out of the camp, the notion is that there is a spot open to play behind returning Goalie, Jonah Imoo of the BCHL.
Nixon is seeing the camp not just as an opportunity to represent his country.
“Getting the invite to camp was a huge honour for me. Anytime you get to don the red and white is special, even if it is a practice jersey. I'm really excited about the camp. There is a lot of talent and a lot of good [shooters], it'll be a great opportunity to not only develop my game, but to see where I measure up against some of the best in not only the AJHL, but all of Western Canada.” Says the Rookie netminder.
Nixon, Jones and Taverner will attempt to make it the 3rd year in a row a Crusader makes the Canada West Squad, Defenseman Josh Healey last season, and former AJHL MVP Peter Quenneville in 2011.
The Canada West Selection Camp runs from October 26th to 30th at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta.
Team Canada West will look avenge last year’s gold medal game loss to the United States at the World Junior A Challenge this November 4th to 10th in Yartmouth, Nova Scotia.
For more information on the Crusader players attending the Canada West Selection Camp, please contact the Crusaders Office at 70-417-1175.