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Future NHL stars on display at U-17 Hockey Challenge

by Adam Kimelman
Some of the top talent available for the 2013 NHL Draft -- and beyond -- will be on display next month at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The tournament will be played in Windsor, Ont., starting Dec. 29 with round-robin play between the 10 teams.

Five teams representing regions of Canada -- Atlantic (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island), Quebec, Ontario, West (Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan) and Pacific (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon) -- will join teams from the U.S., Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany and Russia.

Among the players to watch is a pair from Team Ontario, defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forward Max Domi.

Ekblad, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound blueliner with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, was the second-ever player (following John Tavares) granted "exceptional player" status so he could play in the OHL this year at age 15. In 23 games, he has five goals and six assists, but won't be eligible for the NHL until the 2015 Draft.


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Domi, a 5-foot-10, 184-pound center with the OHL's London Knights, leads all first-year league players with 14 assists and is second with nine goals and 23 points. He's also the son of former long-time NHL player Tie Domi.

Center Sam Reinhart will be a key player for Team Pacific. The 6-foot-1, 177-pound center with the Western Hockey League's Kootenay Ice, has seven goals and 13 assists in 25 games, and his 20 points is tied for fifth among first-year WHL players.

Among the stars for Team West will be Prince George Cougars center Alex Forsberg. The first pick of the 2010 WHL draft, Forsberg has four goals and 12 assists in 25 games.

Nathan MacKinnon, the first pick of the 2011 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft, will be a key player for Team Atlantic. The 16-year-old with the Halifax Mooseheads has 13 goals and 24 assists in 25 games, and his 37 points are second among first-year players in the league.

Team USA will consist of the members of the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 team, among them center Tyler Motte. The 5-10, 165-pound forward leads the team with five assists and nine points in just six games.

Team Ontario is the defending champion, having won the gold medal in 2011 for the third time in four years. The U.S. won the silver medal after defeating Team Ontario for the gold in 2010.

Round-robin play continues through Jan. 2. The semifinals will be played Jan. 3, with the bronze- and gold-medal games scheduled for Jan. 4. The gold-medal game will be broadcast by TSN and RDS.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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