A pair of Charlottetown Islanders will play for Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge next month in Western Canada.
Goalie Jacob Goobie and defenceman Oscar Plandowski, both Halifax residents, have cracked the 66-man roster for Hockey Canada, which will divide the group into three squads for the eight-team tournament. The championship will take place Nov. 2-9 in Swift Current, Sask., and Medicine Hat, Alta.
“Obviously, representing Canada is a dream come true,” Plandowski said. “It was a goal I had set . . . to make that team. To be named to one of the three rosters, it’s unbelievable.”
Goobie said it was hard to come up with the words to properly express his feelings.
“It’s just such an honour to be able to say you play for Team Canada,” he said.
Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said the organization is really excited for both of the youngsters to be recognized.
“We knew that they had very good camps in the summer and both have had very good starts to their (junior) careers,” he said. “For them to get exposure on the national stage is important for them as individuals, but it also bodes well for our future.”
The rookies are playing against guys this year who are sometimes three and four years older than they are. The under-17 event will give them the chance to play against their peers.
Hulton said he has seen the tournament’s benefits in the past.
“It’s a big boost for their confidence,” he said.
While the rookies are giving up age at the junior level, they haven’t looked out of place in helping the Islanders get off to one of their best starts in recent seasons.
Hulton said defence and goalie are the two toughest positions to play and both the rookies have looked very comfortable in making the jump from midget. He noted Goobie’s play has picked up in practice and he showed his poise in a shootout win against Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday.
“He looked cool as a cucumber. He looked like a veteran,” Hulton said. “Oscar, you have to remind yourself watching him that he’s 16. He doesn’t appear that way. He plays more like he’s 18 with a couple of years under his belt.”
Goobie was in Calgary as one of the 12 netminders at an under-17 goalie camp when the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft was taking place in June. Islanders goalie coach Paul Drew was at the camp as a goalie consultant and told Goobie the Islanders had drafted him after he came off the ice.
Goobie and Plandowski had played together in minor hockey and have been able to lean on each other as 16-year-old rookies with the Isles. Now they will get a chance to share an international tournament with each other.
“It’s awesome being able to experience it with a teammate like Goobie,” Plandowski said.
“It’s just awesome going through it with him as well,” Goobie added.
Both players have grown up watching international events like the world junior tournament. Goobie went to watch a game in Montreal a few years ago.
“Being able to wear the Maple Leaf is something special,” Plandowski added.
Next year’s tournament is being hosted in Summerside and Charlottetown.
Need to know
World Under-17 Hockey Challenge
What – An eight-team hockey tournament featuring the top 16-year-old players in the world. Canada will field three teams that will compete against Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
History – The tournament started in 1986 as the Quebec Esso Cup. Quebec defeated the Soviet Union 6-3 in the tournament’s first gold medal game. It became the World Hockey Challenge in 1992 in Sudbury, Ont. Canada used to send regional teams but changed its format for the 2014 event in Sarnia and Lambton, Ont.
Past five champions
2017 United States
2015 Canada White
Did you know? Charlottetown Islanders defenceman Lukas Cormier played in last year’s event in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B. This year’s Islanders roster has a few other players who have competed in the tournament. They are Noah Laaouan and Brett Budgell in 2017, Xavier Bernard in 2016 and Matthew Welsh in 2015.
QMJHL content – A look at the other players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to make this year’s roster. The defencemen include: Gatineau’s Olivier Boutin, Shawiningan’s Tyson Hinds, Cape Breton’s Jérémy Langlois and Halifax’s Cameron Whynot. The forwards include: Rimouski’s Zachary Bolduc, Gatineau’s Zach Dean, Acadie-Bathurst’s Riley Kidney, Moncton’s Zachary L’Heureux, Sherbrooke’s Israel Mianscum, Shawinigan’s Olivier Nadeau, Victoriaville’s Maxime Pellerin, Val-d’Or’s Justin Robidas, Saint John’s Joshua Roy and Quebec’s Nathan Gaucher and James Malatesta.