(Originally published in the Kindersley Clarion, Dec. 3/2014)
Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers forwards Owen LaClare and Cody Young, along with goaltender Evan Weninger have earned a spot on the Canada West Camp roster for the upcoming World Junior ‘A’ Challenge (WJAC).
LaClare, Young, and Weninger are three of eight SJHL players to
be invited by Hockey Canada to the selection camp in Calgary this Dec. 7-9 at the MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
Sixty of the best junior ‘A’ players across Western Canada will be divided into three teams and play four intrasquad games over the three days.
LaClare looks to earn his way onto the Canada West roster for the second year in a row. LaClare represented the West in the 2013 WJAC in Yarmouth, N.S. Now, LaClare and his teammates will get the chance to wear the maple leaf in their home rink, the West Central Events Centre, this Dec. 14-20.
LaClare is one of seven returning players from the 2013 WJAC, but that doesn’t mean he’s secured a spot on the roster this year.
“Definitely got to work for spots. Last year everyone earned their spots at camp, and if you don’t go to camp and show your best, then you’re not going to make the team,” LaClare said.
The Edam native leads the SJHL in goals with 24, and is tied for the most points in the league with 34. He’s been looking forward to this moment and was happy to receive the invite to camp once again. Ever since last year, LaClare has been focusing on what he needs to improve on.
“That hockey is so much quicker than what we play here,” LaClare said of the WJAC. “Adjusting is hard, but it’s more of the mental game to get prepared and ready is what I need to work on.”
Cody Young went into this hockey season with the goal of making the Canada West the Canada West roster. He was thrilled and relieved to get the phone call last week and now have the opportunity to achieve that goal.
“I’ve put so much effort in the last three years to get to this next level. To get the opportunity to try out for such a big team is a great opportunity,” Young said.
Young’s had his best junior season to date, and it taking on an expanded role with the Klippers now that he is one year older. So far this season, Young has compiled five goals and 15 assists for 20 points.
Young, from Saskatoon, believes he’s a gritty player who leaves everything out on the ice each and every shift. He’s gained the trust of Klippers head coach Rockie Zinger, and now he’s out to gain the trust of the Hockey Canada selection staff.
“When I go out on the ice I want to make my shift better every time, and I’m getting the opportunity to do that,” Young said.
Putting on the practice jersey for Canada West is going to be a huge honour for Young, but it will leave him hungry for more. Young is willing to play any kind of role he can on Canada West.
Saskatoon’s Evan Weninger was the final Klipper to receive the nod to selection camp. Weninger is having a breakout season that has placed him not only among the best in the SJHL, but across the country. When looking through the statistics of goalies in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, it doesn’t get much better than Weninger’s 2.04 goals against average, and .942 save percentage through 25 games this season.
“I come into the season expecting to get that call, but it was nice to get the confirmation that I’ll be there,” Weninger said.
Weninger believes he strives at controlling the pace of the game by covering the puck often and avoiding rebounds. He hopes that will give him an advantage going into the selection camp.
He’s also happy to be attending the camp with his fellow Klippers teammates, and other SJHL players. He hopes they will all have a good showing and represent Saskatchewan well.
“It’s going to be pretty nice. Owen and Cody are two of my good friends on the team and I have the utmost trust and faith in them to be one of the better players there,” Weninger said.
There are two SJHL connections in Canada West’s coaching and training staff. Yorkton Terriers coach Trent Cassan, who guided his team to the RBC Cup last season, will be the head coach of Canada West. The Kindersley Klippers’ Emily Thiessen has been named to the team as athletic therapist and equipment manager.