By Kristy Koehler, January 22 2019—
Most hockey fans know that this year’s World Junior Championships didn’t go the way Canada wanted — a 2–1 overtime loss to Finland ended our quest for gold in the quarterfinals. What people may not know, however, is that the Dinos played a big part in helping Team Canada evaluate their roster prospects.
Every year, U Sports puts together an all-star team to face off against potential Team Canada players at their selection camp ahead of the World Junior Championships. The tournament has been played in the All-Star format since 2015. But varsity teams have been helping Team Canada train since 1988 when the Dinos faced off against the national team. This year, the three-game series took place in Victoria, British Columbia, from Dec. 12–14.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell was named head coach of the U Sports All-Star Team, his third consecutive year being involved in the tournament in a coaching capacity. Dinos hockey players Dylan Busenius, Cain Franson, Riley Sheen and Jordan Papirny were also named to the team. Busenius was named captain and he and Franson made up two of the seven returning roster members.
Howell says the tournament came about when Hockey Canada went in search of some stiff competition to evaluate the World Junior prospects.
“They felt that this was the best competition they could get to push their guys and evaluate the team — and to find out where they were at as far as their preparation,” he said.
The tournament presents not only a development opportunity for the junior players, but a chance for varsity athletes to show the country what they’re made of — and maybe attract some new fans in the process.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the players across Canada that play U Sports hockey to represent U Sports and showcase their level of skill to everybody,” Howell said. “U Sports men’s hockey is extremely high-level hockey.”
The U Sports team won the series 2–1, their second consecutive win against Team Canada.
The Dinos men’s hockey team is poised to earn a playoff spot. Canada West quarterfinals begin Feb. 15.