CALGARY (Hockey Canada) – Following the end of Canada’s National Sledge Team’s 10-day September Showcase and selection camp on Saturday, Hockey Canada named the 20 players chosen to represent the red-and-white through the 2017-18 season. The organization will select its final 2018 Paralympic Winter Games team from among these 20 athletes.
(Veterans Billy Bridges and Adam Dixon return)
The roster includes 17 players (Armstrong, Arsenault, Bowden, Bridges, Cozzolino, Delaney, Dixon, Gemmell, Henry, Hickey, Larocque, McGregor, Sholomicki, Smith, Sorley, Watson and Westlake) who won gold at the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship in Gangneung, South Korea last April - which will be the para hockey venue for the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Canada’s 2017-18 National Sledge Team roster includes:
Goaltenders: Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.), Corbin Watson (Kingsville, Ont.)
Defencemen: Steve Arsenault (Spruce Grove, Alta.), Brad Bowden (Orton, Ont.), Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.), James Gemmell (Quesnel, B.C.), Tyrone Henry (Ottawa), Antoine Lehoux (Thetford Mines, Que.)
Forwards: Rob Armstrong (Erin, Ont.), Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.), Dominic Cozzolino (Mississauga), Ben Delaney (Ottawa), James Dunn (Wallacetown, Ont.), Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.), Zach Lavin (Okotoks, Alta.), Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.), Bryan Sholomicki (Winnipeg), Corbyn Smith (Monkton, Ont.), Kevin Sorley (Petersburg, Ont.), Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.)
The National Sledge Team also announced its coaching and support staff for the 2017-18 season:
Assistant coach, Luke Pierce (Cranbrook, B.C./Hockey Canada)
Goaltending consultant, Zac Bierk (Peterborough, Ont./Oshawa, OHL)
Athletic therapist, Cory Cameron (Revelstoke, B.C./Hockey Canada)
Team doctor, Dr. Lindsay Bradley (Ottawa/Hockey Canada)
Equipment manager, Blair Smook (Airdrie, Alta./Hockey Canada)
“We had a very competitive camp with a strong group of veterans and prospects all vying for a spot on the team,” said head coach Ken Babey. “The guest coaches participating in the camp mentored our players on and off the ice, and their evaluation was instrumental in us choosing the players moving forward this Paralympic season. The opportunity to host and compete against the Korean team for the past week also proved to be an invaluable tool as we evaluated our players through practices and games. We feel we’ve positioned ourselves to compete in elite-level competitions, moving forward towards our goal, which are the Paralympics in March.”
Babey led the identification process for the 30 players invited to the camp, with input from Hockey Canada’s management group and coaches who worked with the national and development teams throughout the 2016-17 season.
The 20 players chosen will continue to train and compete in international competitions including the World Sledge Hockey Challenge, as well as a series against the U.S. prior to the final roster being selected to wear the Maple Leaf in pursuit of Canada’s second Paralympic gold medal ahead of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games next March in PyeongChang, South Korea.