Team Pacific to feature local players

This year’s edition of Team Pacific will feature a couple of Red Deer Rebels on the back end.

Rookie blueliners Matt Dumba, who hails from Calgary, and Lucas Grayson, have both been named to the squad that will compete in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which runs Dec. 28 to Jan. 5.

“A hockey team is like a giant puzzle,” said Pacific head coach Robert Dirk after the line up was announced.

“And though there were some very tough decisions through this process, we as a staff feel we have the right pieces that will fit together, both on and off the ice that will give us the best opportunity for success at the tournament.”

Team Pacific is made up of 11 players from B.C. and 11 players from Alberta, with both provinces holding evaluation camps over the summer to identify the best players available.

“It was very exciting,” said Dumba after finding out from Dirk that he’d made the squad.

“I’m just really proud. It’s the chance to represent your country. I mean, what’s better than that.”

Grayson, a native of Port Hardy, BC, had similar feelings on being named to the team.

“Right off the bat, he said I’ll keep it short and tell you that you made it,” said Grayson when asked what his call with Dirk was like.

“It felt really good and I was really happy to hear that. I worked really hard for this. I’ve been dreaming about this since I could. I can’t wait to do it, and see how I’m at with all the other players around the world. Hopefully it turns out well.”

Prince Albert Raiders forward Mike Winther, who is from Trochu, and Lacombe native Josh Smith, who plays defense for the Prince George Cougars, are also on Team Pacific, which placed fifth at last year’s Challenge.

Five teams from Canada, as well as squads from Germany, Slovakia, Finland, the Czech Republic and the United States will take part in the tournament, which will be held this year in Winnipeg.

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