The stage has been set for the 2022 World Junior A Challenge.
And Red Deer’s Ty Daneault can’t wait to get started.
After a three-day selection camp, Team Canada West and Team Canada East selected their squads from some of the top Junior A talent from across the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The annual tournament takes place from December 11-18 at the Cornwall Civic Complex and Daneault cracked the Team Canada West roster as well as Saskatoon D-man Tanner Willick from the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). Lacombe’s Clayton Jardine of the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks will also serve as an assistant coach.
Daneault explained finding out he will play for Team Canada for the first time was a dream come true.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It’s something lots of hockey players dream of wearing the maple leaf growing up so I was really happy to make the team.”
The 17-year-old has had a massive season in his second AJHL season with the Drumheller Dragons already surpassing his goal total from the 2021-22 season with 21 goals. He’s also contributed 15 assists for a total of 36 points in 29 games.
Last season, Daneault had just 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points in 54 games.
“The first half of the season was definitely huge for me to get an invite to the camp. It was definitely a goal I set for myself,” he said.
“We’re off to a great start and I’ve had a pretty good start myself with 21 goals. It’s been good but obviously, the team winning is more important so being able to put together a couple of wins has been really good too.”
The second-year forward worked in the offseason to get stronger, faster, and develop a harder shot. So far it seems to have paid off as the Dragons are third in the AJHL’s South Division two points out from the second-place Okotoks Oilers.
Team Canada West played their first pre-tournament game on Friday and will play the United States on Sunday to begin round-robin play. The World Junior A Challenge has five teams including the United States, Latvia, and Sweden with playoffs beginning next Saturday, Dec. 17.
“Most of us it’s our first time playing in a game against the U.S. so it’ll be an amazing experience for sure,” he said.
He explained getting to know some of the guys he plays against on a regular basis in the AJHL has been one of the best parts of the experience so far.
“It’s a lot of guys we don’t like very much playing in Drumheller it’s good to actually get to know these guys and make friends with them,” he said.