Saskatoon, SK – Two members of the Saskatoon Blades have earned invites to Hockey Canada’s Under-18 Summer Selection Camp being held at the end of July in Calgary, Alberta. Forward Kirby Dach and goaltender Nolan Maier are among the nation’s top 44 players invited who will be vying for a spot to represent Canada in August at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in Alberta. The Blades, who are the only Western Hockey league team to have two players attending the camp, will have a strong presence as Head Coach Mitch Love was named as an Assistant Coach for Team Canada earlier in June
Kirby Dach is one of 26 forwards on the camp roster, and one of six from the Western Hockey League. Dach, the WHL’s 2nd overall bantam draft pick in 2016, is coming off an impressive rookie season with the Saskatoon Blades posting 46 points in 52 games. The 17-year-old forward brings international experience after collecting 7 points in 5 games with Team Canada Black at the World U-17 Challenge in 2017. Dach checks in as the tallest forward on the camp roster standing at 6’4″ and 181lbs.
Nolan Maier is one of four goaltenders invited to the selection camp; representing the WHL alongside Prince George Cougars rookie, Taylor Gauthier. Maier was drafted 25th overall by the Blades in 2016 and emerged on the WHL scene after a strong performance at the World U-17 Challenge in November 2017. Maier was named the Blades’ Rookie of the Year and Team MVP after suiting up for 43 games and winning 23 in his 2017-18 rookie campaign. The Yorkton, Saskatchewan, product maintained a .895SV% during his breakout season in the WHL, adding two shutouts in the process.
“Unlike our other summer camps, these players are part of a selection process from the moment they arrive, and the opportunity is to represent Canada on the world’s stage,” said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada. “We have a very talented group of players coming to Calgary in late July, and we will no doubt have some very difficult decisions to make when it’s time to select this year’s Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team. The players are excited to arrive and get started, and they are all coming in with the goal of making our decision a difficult one.”
Newly rebranded as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the annual tournament is one of the only true, best-on-best competitions for this age group. While the event is being co-hosted in Edmonton and Red Deer, Canada will play all of its games out of Rogers Place in Edmonton, except for a pre-tournament game against the Czech Republic slated for 7 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the brand-new Servus Arena in Red Deer.
Canada won last year’s edition of the event in Breclav, Czech Republic, besting the host team 4-1. Canada has won gold 21 times in 27 years of summer under-18 competition.
For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, and the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, please visit HockeyCanada.ca