Two Cochrane area players will be wearing the red and white for Western Canada in the 2018 World Junior 'A' Challenge being hosted by Bonnyville, AB. that opens with pre-tournament play tonight (Dec. 7).
Austin Wong, 18, of Cochrane and Dylan Holloway, 17, of Bragg Creek, are part of the 22-player roster competing against teams from Canada East, US, Russia and the Czech Republic. Canada West takes on Russia tonight in a warmup game being hosted by Frog Lake, AB., 70 km south of Bonnyville.
The tournament goes wide open on Saturday with Canada West first facing the US. The round-robin continues until Dec. 14 with playoffs on Dec. 15-16.
The tournament features the top junior 'A' players in all four participating countries and is jointly presented by the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Canadian Junior Hockey League and NHL Central Scouting. It's the second time in three years Bonnyville has been the host.
Just how talented are those taking to the ice? This season alone, 70 Junior Challenge alumni were on the starting rosters of NHL teams.
Wong and Holloway are teammates with the AJHL's Okotoks Oilers and are the team’s top two scorers. Holloway leads the team and the AJHL with 46 points (20 goals and 26 assists) in 29 games, an average of 1.6 points per game. Respectively, Wong is number two with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 24 games, an average 1.2 points per game.
Oilers Coach Tyler Deis says it's great for the players.
"For sure and it's well deserved with these guys and it's a great opportunity for them."
It was Wong's second straight invitation for the Canada West tryout, although he didn't make the cut last year.
Holloway helped Team Canada West win gold last year in Truro, NS.
Both players have their immediate hockey future mapped out after the AJHL. Wong is committed to play for Harvard next season and Holoway has signed with the University of Wisconsin.
In the June NHL draft, Wong was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the seventh round.