The summer of hockey camps continue for Colorado Avalanche prospect Conner Bleackley.
After attending the Avs' development camp earlier this month, Bleackley is one of 40 players that will attend Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Summer Development Camp, which begins Saturday in Calgary, Alberta.
|Conner Bleackley |
A strong showing this week and a good start to next season could go a long way for Bleackley to make Canada's squad for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland from Dec. 26, 2015 to Jan. 5, 2016.
One of 24 forwards at the under-20 camp, Colorado's 2014 first-round selection (No. 23 overall) will participate in two days of practices before playing two exhibition contests against the Czech Republic and Russia at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park. Practices will be held on Saturday and Sunday, while games against Russia are set for Monday and Wednesday and against the Czech Republic on Tuesday and Thursday. In past summer camps, Canada's squad has been split into two for the exhibitions so that each player skates in one game against each opponent.
Overall, Bleackley is part of a 194-player contingent that was invited to Hockey Canada's Summer Showcase, which includes players from the under-20, under-18 and under-17 ranks. This is the first time the organization has brought together all three of its national men's programs in the same city at the same time.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Canada’s top talent to show our coaches and scouts how they can help Canada succeed on the international stage," said Hockey Canada director of player personnel Ryan Jankowski in a news release.
Bleackley, who is from High River, Alberta, located just south of Calgary, tallied 27 goals and added 22 assists in 51 games last season while captaining the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. He missed most of the final six weeks of the year with a groin injury before returning for the season finale on March 21 against Edmonton.
He recorded a goal and an assist in five postseason contests, but the Rebels' season came to a close in the first round of the WHL Playoffs against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
"It was a little bit shorter than I obviously wanted. Every year you want to go on a deep playoff run," said Bleackley, recapping his season earlier this month at Avalanche development camp. "I got injured at the end of the season, right when I was hitting my stride. That was something new for me. I came back for playoffs, and I thought our team played really well. I thought we outplayed Medicine Hat for the better part of that series. Just a goal here or there or a bounce here or there was the difference."
After Canada's summer development camp, Bleackley will have a few more weeks of offseason training before he heads back to Denver for Avalanche training camp in mid-September.
"My summer is getting pretty busy here with hockey," Bleackley said. "I'm just trying to soak up as much as I can along the way and come into camp in the best shape of my life and go out there and show why they picked me in the first round."