Red Deer will host Canada’s best under 20 hockey players for just under a month ahead of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.
Hockey Canada announced Thursday that 47 players will attend a camp at The Centrium at Westerner Park from Nov. 16 to Dec. 13.
The camp will take place in a cohort bubble and will be closed to the public and the media.
“As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada has taken important steps to maintain the health and safety of our national junior team athletes and staff, as well as the community at large, during selection camp and throughout the world juniors,” said Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada.
“As much as we would enjoy allowing fans into the building to support Team Canada throughout the camp, we need to be responsible as we look to keep all parties safe before teams enter the bubble in Edmonton.”
Renney added that having training camp in Red Deer was a way to involve the city and the community, given that they were originally slated to host one of the two groups, before the entire event was moved to a bubble in Edmonton.
Red Deer is set to play host to the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships along with Edmonton.
“Red Deer had made a commitment to Hockey Canada and the World Junior Hockey Championship, and we certainly felt compelled to allow them to participate in the preparation at least for Edmonton,” he said.
“Recognizing too, that we will be back in 2022. It gives us an opportunity to identify with that group of people and certainly the community, out of respect for what they committed to in the first place.”
Renney added Hockey Canada felt the Edmonton bubble was the best place to host the tournament, given the success of the NHL’s bubble in that city.
“It made real sense to us to get in there as quickly as we possibly could,” he said.
“Recognizing again, the two were hand in a glove in the first place and we wanted to identify and recognize that and continue on with the selection camp and the inclusion of Red Deer.”
The selection camp will include practices and three intrasquad games, as well as six games against a team of U Sports all-stars, between Nov. 28 and Dec. 13, before the team enters the bubble in Edmonton.
The players, including five goalies, 15 defencemen and 26 forwards, will compete for a chance to represent Canada at the world juniors from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton.
Among the 46 players are six returnees who won gold at the 2020 world juniors – Quinton Byfield (Newmarket, Ont./Sudbury, OHL), Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C./Vancouver, WHL), Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL), Jamie Drysdale (Toronto/Erie, OHL), Connor McMichael (Ajax, Ont./London, OHL) and Dawson Mercer (Bay Roberts, N.L./Chicoutimi, QMJHL).