The Western Hockey League today announced the 22 players that will represent TEAM WHL in the 2003 RE/MAX Canada Russia Challenge Series. The series will feature Team WHL taking on the Russian Selects in games in Calgary at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday, November 26th, 2003 and in Brandon on Thursday, November 27th, 2003 at the Keystone Centre.
TEAM WHL was selected by a panel of two WHL General Managers; Kelly McCrimmon, Brandon Wheat Kings and Ken Hodge, Portland Winter Hawks in consultation with Blair Mackasey, Hockey Canada's Head Scout for Canada's National Junior Team.
The team includes five current top ten WHL scorers, Kyle Brodziak, Moose Jaw Warriors (Tied 1st - 19 Pts), Adam Courchaine, Vancouver Giants (Tied 2nd - 18 Pts), Clarke MacArthur, Medicine Hat Tigers (Tied 2nd - 18 Pts), 2003 Rangers draft choice Nigel Dawes, Kootenay Ice (Tied 4th - 16 Pts) and Eric Fehr, Brandon Wheat Kings (Tied 4th - 16 Pts).
Leading the defence will be Dion Phaneuf, Red Deer Rebels, the Western Hockey League's second leading scoring defencemen with 16 points. In goal, the team will be led by the 2002-03 WHL Goaltender and WHL Player of the Year, Josh Harding of the Regina Pats and the 2001-02 WHL Goaltender of the Year, Cam Ward of the Red Deer Rebels.
Dawes, New York's fifth round draft choice (149th overall) in last summer's NHL's Entry Draft, currently leads Kootenay with 12 goals and ranks third on the club with 16 points in 14 games.
The RE/MAX Canada/Russia Challenge Series will be an integral part of the identification process for Canada's National Junior Team final selection camp. The series will involve a total of six games across Canada in November.
The Ontario Hockey League's London Knights will host the first game of the historic series at the John Labatt Centre on Monday, November 17 and the Sarnia Sting of the OHL will host the second game of the series on Wednesday, November 19. The Halifax Mooseheads (Thursday November 20) and Rimouski Oceanic (Monday November 24) will host the QMJHL games, with the final leg of the series held in the Western Hockey League.
All six games will be broadcast throughout Canada on Rogers Sportsnet.
Canada and Russia have finished first and second in the World Junior Championships eight times in the past 18 years, including last January when Russia defeated Canada 3-2 to win the gold medal in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Russia has 12 gold medals in World Junior play, including each of the past two years. Canada is second on the all-time list with 10.
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