Age Group Enters Pivotal Stretch With Scouts and Evaluators Ahead of Junior Drafts

The U16 age group  — or 15O in the U.S. — tends to be the most pivotal and important seasons for top-level youth hockey prospects. For many players worldwide, it is their final season at the youth levels before embarking on junior hockey careers and beyond. 

In eastern Canadian provinces, 2007-born players have the next 10 months to bolster their resumes ahead of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Drafts next spring. Western Canada is unique in that the Western Hockey League (WHL) has already selected top ‘07s in its Bantam Draft process that took place last month.

Similarly, one year from now, top players from Sweden, Finland and Russia will be promoted to the ranks of J18 Nationell, U18 SM-Sarja and MHL — each country’s comp to junior hockey in their respective regions.

For Americans, the goal for top 2007s is the country’s top player development model, the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP). USA Hockey chooses the top 23 players through a pretty extensive selection process that is typically finalized by April of each year. That team competes in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and other major international tournaments.

So with the next several months being so pivotal for youth hockey players around the world, WHH takes a closer look at the biggest upcoming events for the age group and what to watch for this season.

Chicago, Illinois, USA
August 11 – 14, 2022

An invite-only event designed to consolidate the top 68 players in the country from the age group in one place, at one time, for one weekend. The eighth annual CCM 68 Combine consists of on-ice practices and four games over the course of four days. College and professional coaching instructors are on-hand, and all participants get to sample new equipment products by CCM. The 68 skaters are split up into four teams to compete in some of the most high-level game action of the year at Seven Bridges Ice Arena.

Stockholm, Sweden
September 15 – 18, 2022

The Sweden Hockey Trophy (SHT) hosts six different age groups over the course of four weekends in September. Last year’s tournament featured 63 teams from five different European countries, and the ‘07 tournament was headlined by four of the top 10 teams in Sweden as well as the top program in the Czech Republic. This year, the ‘07s are the featured age group now competing at the U16 level. Will names like Melvin Novotny, Ruben Westerling and Theo Stockselius return to the SHT to cement themselves as top prospects in the birth year? Or will new names arise as the tournament gets underway?

Ontario, Canada
October, 2022

A Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) official tournament, the Sylvia Jacobs Memorial Classic featured eight member teams and six other Ontario-based programs. The field included six of the top-10 teams in the country at the U16 age group last season. The championship game served as a prelude to the OHL Cup championship — more on that tournament later — as the Mississauga Senators and Toronto Jr. Canadiens clashed for the title. Thirty-five games over the course of four days at two different rinks; last year’s tournament featured 112 of the 303 players drafted in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. 

Chicago, Illinois, USA
November 4 – 6, 2022

It’s the second event on this list hosted in the Windy City. The biggest factor in why the CCM World Invite in Chicago is the world’s largest youth hockey tournament? Location, location, location. Nestled in the heart of the Central District, the state of Illinois, its surrounding states and nearby USA Hockey Districts account for more than 35 percent of all registered hockey players in the country. More than 500 teams in total, and a full slate of 30-plus teams at the 15O age group, November will be a who’s who of top programs in youth hockey.

Nov. – Dec., 2022

One of the more unique national tournaments in the world, the Federal District Championships are an all-star event of sorts for youth hockey in the country. Russia is segmented into eight federal districts — Central, Far Eastern, Moscow, Northwestern, Privolzhsky, St. Petersburg, Ural and Siberian — with each district responsible for assembling a team of the best players from their respective regions. Traditional youth hockey seasons are put on pause for 10 days while the best players in the country represent their districts in a round-robin style tournament. The St. Petersburg District went 7-0-0 in to win last year’s championship, thanks to SKA St. Petersburg’s Andrei Korablev and SKA Strelna’s Vyacheslav Vasilyev and Arseny Ilyin. Can the trio repeat as Federal District Champions again in 2022 or will they be dethroned by another district?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
April, 2023

Arguably the most elite-level, highest-profile youth hockey tournament in the world with media coverage, full video-streaming broadcast and top teams from Ontario and the United States. Automatic bids, at-large spots, play-in games… the OHL Cup format is nothing short of professional in the youth hockey space and the product on the ice is as good as it gets. It’s also prospects’ last opportunity to make a big impression as the OHL Cup takes place just days before the OHL Draft and USHL Draft. It worked out well for 2007-born Michael Misa. He earned tournament MVP honors as an underager in the tournament this year and earned exceptional status. He will forego his final season of youth hockey to play in the OHL this fall. The remaining ‘07s will look to make their mark in the tournament next spring.

Want more from the world of youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest worldwide news, events, prospect talk and more!

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Join the WHH community to talk about what’s going on in our game today

World Hockey Hub prides itself on being the pulse of youth hockey, covering all things in the sport worldwide and being your number one resource for news, rankings, updates and more. In an effort to continue connecting with the community — while also providing a platform for the community to connect with each other — WHH has launched a Discord channel for everyone to talk all things youth hockey. 

Discord is a free voice, video and text chat app that’s used by tens of millions of people worldwide. Discord has proven to be a valuable tool in the video game, NFT and sports talk communities, as well as academic, where students can connect on similar areas of study. WHH sets its sights on connecting youth hockey players, parents and coaches around the world.

We will continue delivering news and updates as we always have, while you can now provide your own commentary, opinions and feedback on those very topics, among others. 

Going to The Brick tournament next month in Edmonton and not sure what to expect? Ask the community for suggestions on things to do in the area so you can get the most out of your experience.

Not sure if the CCM World Invite is the right tournament for your squad next season? Poll other Discord members for their opinion on good winter events that fit your team’s skill level.

And of course, members are encouraged to make suggestions on what would make not only the community better, but our website and coverage of youth hockey. Join our Discord channel today and voice your opinion on all things youth hockey!

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Five players carry point streaks into elimination rounds

The 16U World Selects tournament got underway this week as the final — and oldest — installment of the 2022 spring season. The 2006 birth year marks the last in a series of eight boys international events that began with the 12U age group on April 26th.

Exeter, New Hampshire, hosted some of the top youth hockey prospects from the birth year, as 12 teams from four countries clashed in the six-day event that is expected to conclude on the American Memorial Day holiday. Pool play concluded on Saturday, after 15 of the 30 games were decided by two goals or fewer. 

New Hampshire Jr. Wildcats claimed the top spot in Group A with a 4-1-0 record. Their plus-18 goal differential was the highest in the tournament through pool play. Max Dineen currently leads the Jr. Wildcats — and the field of players — in scoring with 11 points. 

TPH Selects earned the No. 1 bid out of Group B, as the only undefeated team in the tournament thus far. A 5-0-0 record with one of them coming by way of a shootout makes TPH the top seed overall for the elimination rounds with 14 of a possible 15 total points in the standings.

European-based Czech Selects wrapped up pool play with a 3-2-0 record to finish third in Group A. Forwards Dominik Halacka, Lukas Kollar and Tristan Konobelj combined to score nine of the Czechs’ 19 goals so far. 

Fellow Europeans Sweden Selects have not been as fortunate with a 1-4-0 record. Despite finishing in the top half of the tournament in scoring, the Swedes find themselves near the bottom of the standings with three totals points. Defenseman Emil Stadin out of Frölunda HC has eight assists, and a point in four out of five games for Sweden Selects.

RSG Selects forward Niko Tournas has a goal in all five tournament games so far, including a hat trick in the team’s 8-5 win over Sweden Selects. He currently leads all scorers with eight goals. Tournas’ hat trick is one-of-five on the weekend so far; he joins Milo Andersson, Luke Delaney, Kirill Evstigneev and Nick Rockey as the only ones to strike three times in a single game.

Five players enter the elimination rounds on five-game point streaks. Halacka, Tournas, Michael Barron, Cam Springer and Dominik Halacka have recorded a point in every game thus far. 

Goaltender Chris Dakers has stopped 46-of-49 shots on goal for the Jr. Wildcats. He’s tied with Bloodline Hockey’s Marko Vucemilovich for the highest save percentage in the tournament with a .939 in pool play. Owen Lepak has won all five games in net for TPH Selects, and his 1.57 goals-against average is only outdone by New Hampshire’s duo of Dakers and Camden Moran

Elimination rounds are slated to begin Sunday morning with the tournament championship scheduled for 10 a.m. EST. World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the World Selects tournament series, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

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15U Finale Comes Down To A Border Battle At World Selects

The 13th annual 15U World Selects International Trophy concluded on Sunday with one of the best rivalries in hockey. The International Stars — with a heavy contingent of players from across the United States — squared off against Pro Hockey, whose roster consisted of representatives from six different Canadian provinces and territories.

In a game that featured a wealth of soon-to-be CHL Draft Picks, USHL selections, Division-I commits and NHL superstars, it was Pro Hockey that came away with the 2-1 win over International Stars at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville.

Near the halfway mark of the first period, defenseman Reese Hamilton fired a wrist shot past goaltender Joey Slavick to put Pro Hockey on the board first. Forwards Ryan Roobroeck and Gavin McKenna helped set up the strike by Hamilton, as the duo finished first and second in the tournament in scoring; Roobroeck with 28 points and McKenna with 21.

Less than two minutes later, Hayden Harsanyi tapped in a goal from the weak side after Liam Kilfoil found him with a back-door pass. Just like that, the Canadians were up 2-0 and in control of the contest.

The Stars wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. Despite going into the half trailing by two goals, forwards Evan Jardine, Cullen Potter and John Mooney led a charge to get back into the contest. Five minutes into the second half, Alex Baughman hit a streaking Will Horcoff who came flying into the high slot. Horcoff gripped and ripped a wrist shot past goaltender Owen Butler’s blocker and into the net, putting the Stars on the board and cutting the deficit in half.

Over the next 15 minutes, the Stars swarmed the Pro Hockey net, outshooting the Canadians 17-3 in the second half. Butler came up big for the boys in blue, though, frustrating American shooters as he had done all tournament long. In five games, he stopped 92-of-95 shots and won all five starts, including the championship game. The strong second-half push from the Americans would be denied though, as Butler and Pro Hockey held on to the 2-1 gold medal victory. 

It is Pro Hockey’s fourth World Selects Invitational championship all-time, and first ever at the 15U age group. In 2019, this ‘07 group won the 12U Elite tournament in Bolzano, Italy, making five members on the current squad — Roobroeck, McKenna, Shayne Gould, Will Sharpe and Jayden Connors — two-time WSI champions. 

Ryan Roobroeck (left) celebrates with Callum Mainville (right) and Gavin McKenna (front).

Roobroeck’s Record-Breaking Run

The World Selects Invitational series has seen more than 300 future NHL superstars come through its tournament doors over the last two decades. Names like Alexander Barkov, Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, Trevor Zegras and Adam Fox have littered the scoring leaderboard in years past. No player at the 15U level has ever amassed the numbers Roobroeck reached this past week in Nashville though.

The 6-foot-2 power forward led all scorers with 28 points, surpassing Jesse Puljujarvi’s single-tournament mark of 21 points in 2013. Roobroeck also joins Zack Stringer (69), Matthew Savoie (58), Jack Devine (57), Ilya Ivantsov (55) and Connor Bedard (53) as the only players in tournament history to reach the 50-point plateau. In 2019, Roobroeck led the 12U Elite event in scoring as well with 22 points. His 50 total points puts him sixth all-time in tournament scoring. 

Pro Hockey’s Perfect Run

Appearing in the World Selects tournaments more than 50 times in the past 10 years, Pro Hockey has fielded both boys and girls teams across all age levels. The ‘07 team in Nashville dominated pool play, going 5-0-0 and out-scoring its opponent 43-4. Twelve different skaters recorded multiple goals, with Roobroeck, McKenna and Callum Mainville finishing one, two and three in scoring. 

That earned them the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye. Pro Hockey made quick work of TPH Selects in the round of 16 and Alps Selects in the quarterfinals before taking on the 12-seed and defending champion DraftDay-Black. Jordan Switzer pitched the team’s fourth shutout of the tournament, with Roobroeck, Kilfoil, Harsanyi, Savin Virk and Kieran Riley tallying a goal apiece in the 5-0 win.

2007-born Pro Hockey (Canada) wins the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville 2-1 over International Stars (USA).

A high-powered offense elevated Pro Hockey to the championship game with International Stars. However, Butler stole the show in net with a sensational effort and 28 saves to win Pro Hockey’s lowest-scoring game of the tournament.

A First Look At The Next Wave

Jakob Ihs-Wozniak led all European skaters in scoring with 12 points.

It may be the first time that Canadian prospects like Ryan Roobroeck, Gavin McKenna and Cole Reschny go head-to-head with Americans Evan Jardine, Cole McKinney and John Mooney on the ice, but it certainly won’t be the last. That’s not to mention the 100-plus other Europeans that competed in the tournament from Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, France and Kazakhstan. 

Jakob Ihs-Wozinak and Anton Frondell pushed Sweden Selects into the No. 2-seed after going 5-0-0 in pool play. The Swedes scored a last-minute goal from Ruben Westerling to defeat DHI Ontario 5-4 in the second round of the playoffs. They then knocked off the Czech Knights in the quarterfinals before losing to International Stars in the semifinals. 

Czech forward Adam Novotny scored six goals in pool play — tied for third among skaters — as the Knights qualified as the No. 10-seed in the playoffs. Matyas Jonak scored two goals and an assist to defeat LivePolar Hockey 5-4, before the Czechs were eliminated in the next round. 

Alps Selects — with a roster of players from four different central European countries — finished as one-of-four teams to finish without a regulation loss during pool play. They qualified as the No. 8-seed after tiebreakers were resolved. Matey Pekar and Adam Feher both recorded multi-point games in Alps’ 4-1 win over Twin Cities Selects. In the next round, they would be eliminated by eventual champion Pro Hockey.

Whether it’s the U18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, U20 IIHF World Juniors, the Olympics or NHL Playoffs, many of these players will certainly share the ice on an international stage again in the near future.

For more coverage of the World Selects Invitational series, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube. WHH has exclusive previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Youth hockey giant looks for playoff success in Nashville

Total Package Hockey (TPH) is among the biggest name brands in all of youth hockey. With its on-ice training, off-ice schooling with the Centers of Excellence, tournament teams and events, there are very few aspects of the sport left untouched by the organization.

Founded in 2001, TPH has impacted the landscape for more than two decades, and will make its fifth appearance at the 15U World Selects Trophy since 2016. A mainstay at the event in recent years, TPH teams have an overall record of 12-14-0 and qualified for the elimination rounds on two separate occasions. Both times, they were eliminated in the first round.

This year, the 2007-born squad will look to reach heights never reached before by TPH teams in the tournament.

The team has a heavy influence from Michigan, Illinois and the province of Ontario. A region of North America that puts a multitude of players into the field of teams across various rosters. The Compuware hockey contingent of Nino Suhy, Salvatore Viviano and Tyler Ross are three forwards who played all winter together. That trio could continue to carry that chemistry into Nashville as a go-to option offensively for TPH. 

Both goaltenders — Sam Kapotas and Gannon Hunter — should factor into the team’s success as well. Kapotas played last season with the Windy City Storm while Hunter backstopped the Sun County Panthers in Canada.

Puck drop is May 11th, and TPH Selects are one of two teams that the program enters into the field, alongside TPH Prospects. The challenge will be can either team advance past the first round of the playoffs and outperform the teams that have come before them.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Young organization has made immediate impact on youth hockey landscape

Founded in 2018, the Topline Selects program is composed of five full-time staff members with Division-I and professional hockey backgrounds. In just four short years, it has significantly impacted youth hockey prospects like Ryan Fine, Sal Guzzo, Aram Minnetian, Drew Fortescue and Quentin Musty. Those names have gone on to represent America in the U.S. national team development program (USNTDP), play North American junior hockey and in Musty’s case, be selected as the first overall pick in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Draft.

Topline Selects will look to continue that path of success with the 2007 age group at the 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville.

A pair of Cleveland BaronsNathan Bujdos and Tucker Mears — will look to lead the offense on May 11th. That duo played a significant role this winter for the Barons, combining for 43 goals and 85 points during the team’s 63-game schedule. Add in fellow forwards Jack MacFarlane and Ryan Schweitzer to round out the attack up front. If that’s not enough, defenseman Carter Amico goes north often to get involved in the offense; he led all Seacoast Performance Academy defensemen in scoring last season with 19 goals and 45 points. 

Offense may not be a problem at World Selects, but can the very diverse team of players from across North America play sound enough defensively? The roster includes players from nine different U.S. states and Canadian provinces. May 11th will be the first time this group comes together in game action, and they’ll have little time to waste when going up against the best players in youth hockey.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Competed in The Brick and Triple Crown; Will be at WSI for the first time

In the past five years, HD Engine has competed in iconic youth hockey tournaments like The Brick Series and the Triple Crown. However, the historic 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville had eluded the program… until now.

On May 11th, HD Engine will make its tournament debut, competing against the best 2007-born youth hockey teams in the world. It’s an age group that HD has actually had prior success, with a Super Series AAA Triple Crown championship in 2020 to its resume. 

If the team is to achieve similar results in the Music City, names like Cole Tuminaro, Sam Kapell and Kadden Soukup will certainly have to play a factor. Tuminaro was a top defenseman for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, while Kapell and Soukup were standout forwards for high school programs Notre Dame Academy (WI) and Anoka (MN).

Goaltender Charlie Abel is slated to play for the Florida Alliance after spending the 2021-22 season spread between Plant High School (FL), Minnesota Elite League and the Tampa Jr. Bulls. He will need to play some of his best hockey between the pipes to keep HD Engine in contention in Nashville.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Program name is more than a brand, it’s a lifestyle

Ten years ago, Freddy Meyer launched the Dream Big HockeyStars program based out of the New England area. Being an undersized, undrafted defenseman, Meyer himself proved doubters wrong by playing Division-I college hockey and then nearly a decade of professional hockey in the NHL and Europe. Achieving those goals set the tenor for his Dream Big program to inspire other young players to do just that: Dream big. So much so that he signs all memorabilia with his autograph alongside that two-word phrase.

After a decade, Dream Big will add its hat into the ring amongst other top spring hockey programs in the world at the 2022 World Selects Trophy in Nashville. 

Tournament teams are a relatively new endeavor for Dream Big, with much of its programming geared towards individual skill training. The team that will arrive in the Music City will have a strong contingent from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with reps from Vermont, Maine and Alberta, Canada to round things out.

“I would consider us to be ‘team strong’ versus just four or five studs,” said Meyer. “We have a great group of players that have a bright future.”

Can Dream Big fulfill lofty goals at Nashville? It will be a star-studded lineup of the best 2007-born youth hockey players in the world, so they’ll take their best shot at other top programs.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Czech Selects go ‘from worst to first’ in impressive playoff turnaround

In one of the more stunning outcomes in World Selects Invitationals history, the Czech Selects shocked the girls youth hockey world last week, winning the 14U championship. 

After the conclusion of pool play, the Czechs were fifth out of six teams in the standings, and it’s only regulation win was over the sixth-seeded Alps Selects. When the elimination rounds began, the Czechs needed a 2-0 win over Germany Selects in the quarterfinals. That win gave them a rematch with top-seeded Sweden Selects; a team that had beaten them 4-1 just three days earlier. The Swedes had dominated their way to the top spot, out-scoring opponents 26-3 in round-robin action. 

It was a tough semifinal, but a pair of goals from Alena Luxemburgová would change the tides in the rematch. That early offensive surge helped the Czechs knock off the No. 1 team 3-1 and advance to the gold medal game.

The stage was set for the Czechs to take on the No. 2-seeded Finland Selects; another team they lost to earlier in the tournament. Again, this rematch would be all about the Czechs as Merkéta Kafková scored four goals to lead the team to a 6-1 victory and WSI championship.

A pair of Finns Yenna Kolmonen and Julia Kuhta led round-robin action in scoring with 12 points and 10 points respectively. Eventual champion Aneta Florýková also had 10 points. Goaltender Wilma Hallbeck played 139 minutes of scoreless hockey and didn’t allow a single goal against until playoffs. France Selects Lysa Nogaretto had a .914 save percentage, stopping 53-of-58 shots.

It’s just the second time that the Czech Selects have won a girls WSI event and the first time since 2015. This tournament in particular is a unique accomplishment after the WSI had been on pause for the past two years. Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and international travel had made such events virtually impossible to operate. However, in 2022, the situation was such that several European countries were able to travel in some capacity and the six-team event was able to go off without a hitch. 

The early success of this event — and the 12U Boys Elite event — is an encouraging step back towards normalcy regarding WSI. The World Selects Trophy in Nashville will feature 30 teams from eight different countries next week as well. Coupling all that together with the remaining slate of WSI events this month, and it adds up to a lot of progress for a series that was on hold for the better part of 24 months. After a full slate of tournaments this spring, the goal for 2023 will certainly be to have a full slate of teams in the competition, and the return of North American programs in European events.

Want more coverage of the World Selects Invitationals this spring? There’s seven events over the next two weeks, and WHH will have exclusive coverage of the top teams, players and champions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the last news!

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Top scorer in Canadian province looks to be leading producer at international tournament

The North American program DHI has had an influence on the World Selects Invitational series since 2016. In four previous appearances in the North American tournament, DHI has qualified for the playoff rounds three times, with its best finish being a 7-1-0 second place in their tournament debut. Now focusing on its first trip to Nashville for the 15U World Selects Trophy, DHI will rely on strong performances from a few key players.

Defenseman Ryan White was a standout for the U15 Ottawa Senators in the Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) AAA league. He finished in the top five in scoring among defensemen with six goals and 21 points in 22 games. White will be joined by a top D from the opposite end of the country, with Calgary, Alberta, native Jackson Smith. A key player for Edge School U15 Prep, Smith scored 21 goals and 51 points in 33 games. Thirteen of those points in the CSSHL playoffs, leading his team, as Edge finished in third place.

The leading scorer in the HEO among 2007s, Jacob Cloutier scored 32 goals and 60 points in 26 games for the Ottawa Jr. 67s. The team finished with a 40-12-8 record and ranked among the Top 10 in Canada. Cloutier will now look to be a leading producer against the best 2007-born players in the world at WSI.

The DHI program has been a contender for 15U world championships in years past, but hasn’t advanced past the first round of the playoffs in three straight appearances. This group in 2022 will look to turn the tides in Tennessee when the puck drops on May 11.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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