CALGARY, Alberta – Bemidji State University defenseman Zach Whitecloud is among a group of 25 players named to Hockey Canada’s National Team roster for the 2017 Karjala Cup, Nov. 8-12 in Biel, Switzerland and Helsinki, Finland. Hockey Canada General Manager Sean Burke and the team’s management group made the announcement official Sunday.
“We are bringing together a group of players who are on our radar for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games as part of our ongoing evaluation process, with the goal of fielding the best possible team next February,” said Burke. “These 26 players are part of the larger group that is still under consideration for the Olympic team; 10 of these players were not with us in August in Russia, while others who remain under consideration won’t join us next month due either to their being unavailable, or because we feel we already have a good sense of where they could fit with our team.
“As a management group and coaching staff, our priority is putting the best possible team together, and we will continue to evaluate every Canadian player that’s eligible to represent their country at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games to ensure we give ourselves the best possible chance for success in Korea.”
Hockey Canada’s 25-man roster is made up of two goaltenders, nine defensemen and 14 forwards, and includes former NHLers Rene Bourque, Christian Thomas and Ben Scrivens. Whilecloud joins Dylan Sikura of Northeastern University as the only current NCAA players on the roster.
Head Coach Willie Desjardins will lead Team Canada in the pre-Olympic tournament, along with assistant coaches Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft.
The Karjala Cup includes national teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland and Finland. Canada begins its pre-Olympic play Nov. 8 versus Switzerland.
Whitecloud, a Brandon, Manitoba native, is in his sophomore season on the Beavers’ blue line. In four games he currently leads the Beavers with three assists, with two helpers coming on the power play.
A WCHA All-Rookie Team selection in 2016-17, he made an immediate impact on the Beavers. The newcomer led all BSU defensemen and rookies in scoring with 16 points (3g-14a) and was second on the team in assist scoring. With 13 points (1g-12a) in WCHA play, the rookie ranked 16th among all WCHA defensemen and 12th among league’s freshmen in scoring. A member of BSU’s top power-play unit from day one, Whitecloud was second on the team in power-play scoring as 15 (2g-13a) of his 17 points came on the man advantage, while he ranked fourth among all WCHA scorers with 12 (1g-11a) power-play points in league play. In addition, he also posted 55 blocked shots to rank second among his teammates.
Whitecloud joins an elite group of former Beavers who have worn their nation’s colors for world championship competition, which includes: Charlie Brown (1968-71), Blane Comstock (1972-73), Jim McElmury (1967-71), Joel Otto (1980-84) and Matt Read (2006-10), among others.
For more information on the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUMHockey or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).