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Thunderbirds’ Barzal named alternate captain for Canada

Marissa Baecker

Mathew Barzal will serve as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the upcoming 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto.

Hockey Canada unveiled its leadership group Monday morning prior to pre-tournament action against Finland (7 p.m. ET). Joining Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C. / Seattle, WHL) is captain Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont. / Erie, OHL) and alternate captain Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que. / Saint John, QMJHL).

The 19-year-old Barzal, a first round pick (16th) of the New York Islanders, was returned to the Emerald City after beginning the 2016-17 season in Brooklyn. He skated in two games with the Islanders, recording no points.

Since his return, the 6-foot, 183-pound Barzal has amassed 19 points (2G-17A) in 13 games, picking up where he left off after producing 88 points (27G-61A) in 58 games during the 2015-16 campaign. Over the course of 174 career WHL regular season contests, Barzal has collected 218 points (55G-163A), adding another 40 points (10G-30A) in 33 WHL post-season outings.

Last week at the conclusion of a five-day selection camp in Boisbriand, Que., Hockey Canada announced the 22-player squad that will represent at the World Junior Champonship. Barzal is one of five players returning from the 2016 squad that competed in Finland.

“We have eight players on this team who are captains of their club teams, and numerous other associate captains, so there is an abundance of leadership,” said Dominique Ducharme (Joliette, Que. / Drummondville, QMJHL), head coach of Canada’s National Junior Team, in a Hockey Canada release. “Dylan, Mat and Thomas have been through this tournament before, and we have confidence in their ability to lead this team on and off the ice.”

Barzal previously represented Canada and captured bronze at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship, while winning goal as a member of Team Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship officially gets underway Dec. 26 in Montreal and Toronto. Canada will take on Russia at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre at 8 p.m. ET.

Additionally, Barzal and Canada will play three pre-tournament games as a part of the Road to the World Juniors. That action gets underway tonight (Monday at 7 p.m. ET) as Canada faces Finland in Montreal. Pre-tournament play continues Dec. 21 in Ottawa against the Czech Republic and Dec. 23 in Toronto against Switzerland. All pre-tournament games will be broadcast by TSN (check local listings for details).

Barzal is one of seven WHL players representing Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. Among those is goaltender Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta.) of the Everett Silvertips, who was announced as the starting goaltender for Monday’s tilt against Finland.

In addition to Barzal and Hart, Canada will feature goaltender Connor Ingram (Imperial, Sask. / Kamloops Blazers); defencemen Jake Bean (Calgary, Alta. / Calgary Hitmen), Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta. / Brandon Wheat Kings) and Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C. / Everett Silvertips); and forward Dillon Dube (Cochrane, Alta. / Kelowna Rockets).

Opportunities remain for fans to take part in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship and the Road to the World Juniors pre-tournament games; tickets to all pre-tournament games, select preliminary-round and championship-round games can be purchased at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets, or at all host-venue box offices.

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