Team Canada has won three consecutive Spengler Cup championships. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Hockey player with ties to Red Deer will play in Spengler Cup

Dion Knelsen played in the Red Deer Minor Hockey system from 2002-2005

Former Red Deer Minor Hockey player Dion Knelsen will represent Team Canada at the 2018 Spengler Cup.

On Thursday Hockey Canada announced its 25-player roster for the annual competition, which takes place in Davos, Switzerland from Dec. 26-31.

Originally from Three Hills, Knelsen, 29, played in the Red Deer Minor Hockey system from 2002-2005. He went on to play for the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, before continuing his hockey career in Europe.

The five-foot-nine, 170-lb. centre currently plays for the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers in Switzerland, where he’s scored 10 points in 26 games this season.

This won’t be the first time Knelsen wears the maple leaf on his jersey – he played in the 2006 World U18 Hockey Challenge where he scored four points in six games.

Canada has won the past three Spengler Cup tournaments and 15 times since first taking part in 1984.

The team was assembled by co-general managers Ron Francis and Sean Burke, head coach Kevin Dineen, and assistant coaches Gordie Dwyer and Mike Kitchen.

Francis said the Spengler Cup is a highlight of the season for staff and players.

“It is exciting to experience the culture and atmosphere that surrounds the event in Davos and compete against five experienced club teams,” said Francis. “We believe we have assembled a team that can compete for another Spengler Cup championship and contribute to Canada’s historical success at the tournament.”

Burke said Team Canada is looking forward “to competing for our fourth-consecutive championship.

“We believe we have assembled a team that combines experience from previous Spengler Cup appearances and the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, and a group of new faces who will contribute to the success of our team,” Burke said.

Three members of the Spengler Cup roster represented Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea (Andrew Ebbett, Maxim Lapierre and Maxim Noreau).

Canada will open the 2018 Spengler Cup against HC Davos.

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