Langley Rivermen pivot makes Canada West

It was made official on Dec. 10: Marcus Vela has earned the right to represent Western Canada.

The Langley Rivermen centre play for the Canada West squad competing at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, scheduled for Dec. 14-20 in Kindersley, Sask.

Vela is one of 22 players who made it past the selection camp process.

“We’re excited for Marcus,” Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson said. “We know he’s going to do well and hopefully he can bring home the gold.”

The roster was chosen by Canada West head coach Trent Cassan (Yorkton, SJHL) along with assistant coaches Marc Berry (Dauphin, MJHL), Tim Fragle (Sherwood Park, AJHL) and Luke Pierce (Merritt, BCHL), and director of hockey operations Andrew Boutilier, following a three-day selection camp in Calgary.

Players named to the Canada West roster were selected from the CJHL’s five western Junior ‘A’ leagues: the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).

“There were no easy decisions for us coming out of selection camp; these 22 young men earned their spots on the Canada West roster,” Cassan said. “We’re excited to get on the road for Kindersley today and continue the proud tradition Canada West has created at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.”

The Canada West roster for the 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge includes: two goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards.

It consists of nine players from the BCHL, nine players from the AJHL, three players from the SJHL and one player from the MJHL; as well, five players returning from the 2013 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Canada West team will play in Group B at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, joined by Denmark and Russia, while Canada East, Switzerland and the United States will comprise Group A.

Preliminary round play will run until Tuesday, Dec. 16, with both semifinals taking place Thursday, Dec. 18. The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN/RDS, is set for Saturday, Dec. 20.

All preliminary round games, quarter-finals, semifinals and the bronze medal game can be seen live and free through FASTHockey webcasts by clicking here.

Canada West has appeared in six of the eight gold medal games at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenges, winning gold in 2006 in Yorkton, Sask., 2007 in Trail, and 2011 in Langley.

It settled for silver in 2008 in Camrose, Alta., 2009 in Summerside, P.E.I., and 2012 in Yarmouth, N.S..

Canada West won bronze last year in Yarmouth and finished fourth in 2010 in Penticton.

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