Article and Picture Courtesy of TheCarillon.com
With the Steinbach Pistons having so much success this season, three key players from the club have been invited to the World Junior ‘A’ Team West Selection Camp, Dec. 5-8 at Leduc, Alberta.
Invited to the camp are defenceman Darby Gula and forwards Mackenzie Graham and Will Koop.
In all, 60 players from the five western Junior ‘A’ leagues: BCJHL, AJHL, SJHL, MJHL and SIJHL, have been invited to the camp.
There are eight players from the MJHL invited to the camp but the Pistons lead all teams with three invitees while there are two from Virden and one each from Winkler, Portage and Dauphin.
Pistons’ head coach Paul Dyck, who was one of the coaches of Team West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge last year at Cobourg, Ont., will be a guest coach at the Team West selection camp. Meanwhile, Pistons’ equipment manager Riley Kosmolak will again be the equipment manager for Team West at the 2016 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, which will be held Dec. 11-17 at Bonnyville, Alberta.
Graham is the leading goal scorer in the MJHL this season with 18 goals and is second in points with 38. Koop, in his first year with the Pistons, has garnered 25 points in 25 games. Meanwhile Gula, the Steinbach product and in his second year with the Pistons, is developing into one of the top defencemen in the league. Gula leads all Piston rearguards with 16 points this season.
All three players will miss a key game against the Winkler Flyers on Dec. 7 and possibly more if any of them crack the Team West roster.
For his part, Dyck says the players missing games because of the tryouts is an opportunity for them that helps their development. “It’s not like missing games due to injury, they will be competing at a high level while they are away, it will be such a positive experience for them.”
Should the trio, or any of them make the team, they will compete in the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Dec. 11-17, which will include Team Canada West, Team Canada East and four international teams.
Team Canada West has won gold four times in the tournament, including last year.