Three players of Asian heritage are vying for spots on the U.S. and Canadian teams that will compete at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
Forwards Jonathan Ang and Nick Suzuki were among 32 players Hockey Canada selected last week to participate in the selection camp to determine Canada’s 22-player roster for the eight-team WJC tournament to be played Dec, 26-Jan.5 in Buffalo, New York.
Ang, a center for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, and Suzuki, a center for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, begin their quest for roster spots Monday at Hockey Canada’s four-day camp in St. Catharines, Ontario.
“It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to attend selection camp,” Ang said. “Growing up and watching the World Juniors every year, it’s an unbelievable feeling to be considered for this year’s National Junior Team and to be given a chance to represent our country.”
Kailer Yamamoto, a right wing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, was chosen for the United States’ preliminary WJC roster. He’ll be among 23 U.S. players who’ll attend USA Hockey’s training camp Dec. 15-19 at Nationwide Arena and OhioHealth Ice Haus in Columbus, Ohio.
If Yamamoto, makes the cut, he’ll attend an additional camp in Jamestown, New York, Dec. 20-23.
Suzuki, whose great-great grandparents immigrated to Canada from Japan in the early 1900s, was the 13th overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft, chosen by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
He leads the Attack, a major junior team, in scoring with 17 goals and 27 assists in 26 games. He said he’s looking forward to Canada’s World Juniors camp.
“It’s been on my mind since the summer. I definitely want to make that team,” he told the Owen Sound Sun Times. “I think I can PK (penalty kill), or be on the power play, or maybe even be a lower-line guy and just build energy for the top line…I think I could do any role for the team.”
Ang, 19, became the first player of Malaysian heritage to be drafted by an NHL team when the Florida Panthers, chose him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He signed a three-year entry level contract with the NHL team in November.
Ang is the Petes’ top scorer this season with 15 goals and 20 assists in 31 games.
Yamamoto, 19, was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2017 draft with the 22nd overall pick.
He appeared in nine games for the Oilers this season, collecting 3 assists before being reassigned to Spokane. He has 1 goal and 9 assists in 12 games since returning to Washington State.
A Spokane native of Japanese and Hawaiian heritage, Yamamoto led the Chiefs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 47 assists in 65 games.
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