A pair of Red Deer Rebels will get to wear the Red and White next month.
Hockey Canada announced the roster for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Wednesday, which will take place in Medicine Hat and Swift Current from Nov. 2-9.
Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe and defenceman Kyle Masters were among the 66-players named, including 16 from the WHL that made Canada’s roster for the event.
“It was definitely cool finding out, definitely going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Masters, who found out alongside Grubbe after practice on Tuesday. The duo had to keep quiet until the official announcement.
“Just really excited when I found out. It’s been nerve-wracking waiting to hear and throughout the whole process. Good to get it off my mind,” added Grubbe.
“It’s pretty cool, (Kyle is) one of my better buddies here, being able to do that at the same time, even playing against each other there will be cool.”
Congratulations to Rebels players Jayden Grubbe and Kyle Masters on being chosen to play for @HockeyCanada in the 2019 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. It will run Nov. 2-9 in Medicine Hat and Swift Current. #RDR pic.twitter.com/WHh5XMucYk
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) October 16, 2019
The 66-players will be divided into three teams representing Canada, Team Black, Team Red and Team White, competing against the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
In July, 112 players participated in the Hockey Canada under-17 development camp and from there, the final roster of 66 was selected.
“After a successful development camp with the top young players in the country, there were many difficult decisions made to select the 66 players that will compete at this year’s World Under-17 Hockey Challenge,” said head scout for Hockey Canada Brad McEwen in a press release.
“We feel this group exemplifies the values of the Program of Excellence and will represent Canada with pride as we compete for a gold medal this November.”
Both Masters and Grubbe have some experience on the big stage, winning bronze with Team Alberta last winter at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
While both took valuable lessons competing at the national level, they have also spent valuable time in big moments in WHL games already this season.
Grubbe has three assists in nine games with the Rebels this season, while winning over 50 per cent of his faceoffs. He thinks his WHL experience to this point will help him next month.
“I’ve seen how I need to play to be up against the best-on-best, keep my compete level up and I think if I carry on to the tournament, that will go well for me,” Grubbe said.
Masters has suited up for six contests, and has not yet recorded a point, but has been a solid presence on the third defence pair when called upon. He hopes that learning from an NHL Draft pick like Dawson Barteaux and others around the Rebels organization will be a big help at the U17 tournament.
“Representing the country is super cool. Wearing the Red and Black and will be cool. I’m just hoping what I’ve learned here will carry over to the international stage,” Masters said.
“Just take everything one step at a time, you never know what’s going to happen. This is a good league, there’s good players and some even come up and down from the NHL. Just try to learn everything you can.”
More than 1,800 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament since the inception of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (previously known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, including 14 first overall draft picks since 2001.
Canada was held off the podium in 2018 and took home silver in both 2017 and 2016. Canada’s last gold medal was in 2015.
The tournament starts on Nov. 2 with all three Canadian teams in action.
Team Canada Red takes on Russia at the Innovation Credit Union i-Plex in Swift Current and Team Canada Black faces off against Team Canada White at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat.
“I think it will just be fun playing with all the different guys from Ontario and Quebec and getting to know each other and coming together as a team,” Grubbe said.
“Best-on-best, so it will be a good challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”