Central Albertans survive hockey cut

Hockey Alberta is being kept quite busy these days.

After recently announcing the short lists for the Under 16 boys and Under 18 girls’ squads that will represent our province at the upcoming Canada Winter Games, another short list has been revealed.

The top 31 under 17 male hockey players in the province have been announced, with a trio of Central Albertans surviving the cut.

Defenseman Joshua Smith, from Lacombe, as well as forwards Zane Jones of Olds and Mike Winther of Trochu are among the 31 players that Hockey Alberta is looking at sending to the upcoming World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg.

The list was pared down from the 46 who attended a provincial selection camp back in July.

“The decisions definitely get tougher as we narrow the roster down,” said Team Pacific assistant coach Blair Becker.

“There were a lot of talented players competing at provincial camp. When it comes down to it, we’re looking for players who can play a team game and potentially fill different roles on the team.”

Red Deer Rebels’ prospects Matt Dumba (D), Mason Burr (F), Joel Hamilton (F) and Davin Stener (D) also made the list, and Hockey Alberta will now scout the 31 players with their club teams until November, when the final 11 will be announced.

Those 11 will join the top 11 under 17 players from B.C. to make up Team Pacific.

Team Pacific has had some success at the tournament, winning silver in 2009 in Port Alberni, B.C.

Rebels’ standout Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a member of the 2010 squad that finished in fifth in Timmins, Ontario.

The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge includes four other teams from Canada, those being Team West (Sask/MB), Team Ontario, Team Quebec and Team Atlantic, as well as entries from the USA, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Finland.

The tournament runs Dec. 29 – Jan. 4, 2011 in Winnipeg.