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Five T-Birds Prospects To Play at Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup

WHL Network

Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League, in partnership with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba as well as in association with Hockey Canada, announced team rosters for the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup which will begin October 19th at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, AB.

Five Seattle Thunderbirds prospects will be playing in the U16 Challenge Cup. Jake Lee will play for Team Alberta, Layton Ahac and Alex Swetlikoff will play for Team British Columbia and Eric Fawkes and Nakodan Greyeyes will play for Team Manitoba.

All five players were selected by the T-Birds in the 2016 Bantam Draft.

This year’s event will take place from Wednesday, October 19th to Sunday, October 23rd. The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup will feature the highest-rated players in the under-16 age category from the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Of the 80 players scheduled to compete at the event, 76 were selected in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft while two have since been listed by WHL clubs.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEAM ROSTERS

Team Alberta

The four-time champion Albertans will boast another star-studded roster that includes 10 first round selections from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. The roster includes the top three picks from last May’s draft in Okotoks product Peyton Krebs (first overall, Kootenay), Fort Saskatchewan native Kirby Dach (second overall, Saskatoon) and Lethbridge’s Bowen Byram (third overall, Vancouver).

Team British Columbia

Having last won the event in 2012, Team BC enters a strong roster which features Calgary Hitmen first-rounder Jackson Van De Leest (Kelowna, BC) among five first round WHL Bantam Draft selections. Fellow first-rounders Josh Williams (Langley, BC / Medicine Hat Tigers), Sasha Mutala (Vancouver, BC / Tri-City Americans) and Massimo Rizzo (Burnaby, BC / Kamloops Blazers) will pack a powerful punch up front for Team BC.

Team Manitoba

After finishing as runners-up one year ago, Team Manitoba will look for their first title in 2016. Vancouver Giants first-rounder Trent Miner (Brandon, MB) is poised to provide solid goaltending for the Manitobans, while five Brandon Wheat Kings prospects including MacDonald, MB product Ben McCartney (43rd overall) bolster a talented roster.

Team Saskatchewan

Fourth overall pick Logan Barlage (Humboldt, SK / Swift Current Broncos) leads a strong Team Saskatchewan entry also looking for its first title this year. Kelowna Rockets first-rounder Kaedan Korczak (Yorkton, SK) and Brandon Wheat Kings prospect Braden Schneider (Prince Albert, SK), selected 11th and 12th overall respectively, star on a sound blue line.

The tournament will be a four-team round robin format and is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence for players.

Further information on the event can be found at prospects.whl.ca/U16ChallengeCup.

Early Bird Ticket Information

Early bird tournament passes featuring all nine games are now on sale until October 16th at a discounted rate of $30 per pass ($10 savings). After the 16th, tickets can be purchased online or at the event.

Click HERE to purchase your early bird tournament pass.

Minor hockey teams can take advantage of an exclusive discount to take in a game during the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup with their teammates. Minor hockey teams can purchase 20 tickets for $100 by contacting Kayley Edgar at marketing@whl.ca.

Event Schedule

Wednesday, October 19th
3:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Team Manitoba @ Team British Columbia
6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Team Saskatchewan @ Team Alberta

Thursday, October 20th
3:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Team British Columbia @ Team Saskatchewan
6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Team Alberta @ Team Manitoba

Friday, October 21st
3:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Team Saskatchewan @ Team Manitoba
6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Team British Columbia @ Team Alberta

Saturday, October 22nd
1:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Semi-Final (2nd vs. 3rd)

Sunday, October 23rd
9:00 – 11:30 a.m. – Bronze Medal Game (Semi-Final runner-up vs. 4th)
1:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Gold Medal Game (1st vs. Semi-Final winner)

About the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup

The majority of players participating in the event will have been selected in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft or have since been listed by WHL Clubs. The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup has been sponsored since 2009 by the WHL and has been made possible through financial support provided by the WHL, Hockey Manitoba, BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, Saskatchewan Hockey Association and Hockey Canada.

This year will mark the sixth year of the event. The first ever Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup was held in Blackfalds, Alberta in 2009 and featured four of the top eight players selected in the 2012 NHL Draft. In 2010, the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup was not contested due to the Canada Winter Games. In 2011, the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatchewan Hockey Association hosted the event at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In 2012, the tournament was hosted in Calgary at Father David Bauer Arena, the home of the WHL. In 2013, the tournament was again hosted in Calgary at Father David Bauer Arena. In 2014, the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup was not contested due to the Canada Winter Games.

Team Alberta is a four-time champion of the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, capturing the title in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, while Team British Columbia won the event in 2012.

Past Participants

(Player, WHL Club – NHL Draft/Current NHL Club – Branch Team)

2009
Matt Dumba, Red Deer Rebels – Minnesota Wild – Team Alberta
Derek Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks – Pittsburgh Penguins – Team Saskatchewan
Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings – Edmonton Oilers – Team BC
Morgan Reilly, Moose Jaw Warriors – Toronto Maple Leafs – Team BC

2011
Jake Virtanen, Calgary Hitmen – Vancouver Canucks – Team BC
Jayce Hawryluk, Brandon Wheat Kings – Florida Panthers – Team Manitoba
Connor Bleackley, Red Deer Rebels – Colorado Avalanche – Team Alberta
Brayden Point, Moose Jaw Warriors – Tampa Bay Lightning – Team Alberta
Ryan Gropp, Seattle Thunderbirds – New York Rangers – Team BC
Haydn Fleury, Red Deer Rebels – Carolina Hurricanes – Team Saskatchewan

2012
Mathew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds – New York Islanders – Team BC
Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets – Arizona Coyotes – Team Alberta
Jansen Harkins, Prince George Cougars – Winnipeg Jets – Team BC
Brendan Guhle, Prince Albert Raiders – Buffalo Sabres – Team Alberta
Ethan Bear, Seattle Thunderbirds – Edmonton Oilers – Team Saskatchewan 

2013
Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants – Edmonton Oilers – Team Alberta
Brett Howden, Moose Jaw Warriors – Tampa Bay Lightning – Team Manitoba
Sam Steel, Regina Pats – Anaheim Ducks – Team Alberta
Kale Clague, Brandon Wheat Kings – Los Angeles Kings – Team Alberta
Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings – 2017 NHL Draft Top Prospect – Team Manitoba

2015 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup All-Star Team
G – Matthew Thiessen (Team Manitoba) – Altona, MB – Tri-City Americans
D – Ty Smith (Team Alberta) – Lloydminster, AB – Spokane Chiefs
D – Jett Woo (Team Manitoba) – Winnipeg, MB – Moose Jaw Warriors
F – Carson Focht (Team Saskatchewan) – Regina, SK – Tri-City Americans
F – Eric Florchuk (Team Alberta) – Ft. Saskatchewan, AB – Victoria Royals
F – Eli Zummack (Team BC) – Kelowna, BC – Spokane Chiefs

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