Future NHLers coming; Sarnia-Lambton hosting world-class hockey event

Barry Wright

Local fans are about to get a glimpse into hockey’s future.

The 2014 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge will feature teams from Canada, the U.S., Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Finland, all sporting rosters studded with potential NHLers.

At the National Hockey League draft in Philadelphia this summer a record 80 players were chosen who had participated in the Under 17 Hockey Challenge, including 22 taken in the first round.

The tournament will be played Oct. 31 to Nov. 8, with the bulk of the games at the RBC Centre in Sarnia. Others will be played in Forest, Petrolia and Watford.

Jakob Chychrun, the first overall selection in the OHL Priority Selection by the Sarnia Sting, is expected to suit up for one of three Canadian teams at the tournament, although the final rosters won’t be announced until Oct. 1.

Another Sting draftee, Jake O’Donnell, attended the recent U17 evaluation camp in Calgary.

“This is our opportunity to showcase our communities to the world,” said Tourism Sarnia-Lambton special events co-ordinator Vicky Praill.  “It’s going to be an absolutely amazing event.”

Praill says the tournament will generate more than $3 million for the local economy by way of hotel rooms, food and souvenirs, according to a formula used by Hockey Canada.

The three Canadian teams will wear commemorative jerseys to celebrate both Hockey Canada and the City of Sarnia’s 100th anniversary this year.

The organizing committee is also still looking for volunteers to work the event, including team hosts.

“Every team needs a host that will be with them at all times and that speaks the language” said Praill.  “For the Canadian teams, obviously, we are looking for bilingual volunteers.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact TSL or download the form from its website.

Discount early bird tickets went on sale last week. A package to all 11 games in Sarnia starts at $149.

For more, call the Shores Recreation Centre in Forest, or the RBC Centre at 519-541-1717.