October 30, 2008 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Spokane Chiefs
The Canadian Hockey League and the Western Hockey League today announced that three Chiefs, goaltender Dustin Tokarski and defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Jared Cowen, will compete in the 2008 ADT Canada Russia Challenge for Team WHL.
The sixth annual ADT Canada Russia Challenge will take place November 17th to 27th, 2008 in Canada as Canadian Hockey League All-Star Teams, from each of its three member Leagues (WHL, OHL and QMJHL), take on the Russian National Junior Team in a six game series.
Team WHL was selected by a special committee of WHL General Managers along with Al Murray, Hockey Canada\'s Head Scout for the Canadian National Junior Team, as part of the selection process for the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships.
The complete Team WHL roster consists of 25 players - two goalies, eight defenceman and 15 forwards. Top NHL prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft including Cowen, Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings), and Evander Kane (Vancouver Giants) will compete in the series along with seven first round draft picks from the 2008 NHL Entry including Kyle Beach (Everett Silvertips), Tyler Myers (Kelowna Rockets) and Colten Teubert (Regina Pats).
Tokarski is first in the WHL with a .953 save percentage and three shutouts and is second with a 1.48 goals against average and eight wins. At last year\'s Memorial Cup, Tokarski earned the Stafford Smythe trophy as the tournament\'s MVP after going 4-0 with a 1.72 GAA, a .953 save percentage and a 52 save performance in the Championship game against the Kitchener Rangers.
Spurgeon is in his fourth season as a Chief and has played 163 career games. Last year, Spurgeon was named the Spokane Chiefs John "Hitman" Hern Defenseman of the Year and the Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the year after setting career highs in goals, assists and points with 12-31-43 in 69 games, also a career high, in 2007-08. Spurgeon was +36 on the season, third in the WHL., The 19-year-old was selected by the New York Islanders with their sixth round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Cowen is in his second full season in Spokane and has scored three goals, five points and is +8 in 14 games this season. The 6\'5" defenseman was named an Alternate Captain and helped Team Canada win a gold medal at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka under-18 World Championships this past summer. In his rookie season of 2007-08 he appeared in 68 games, scored four goals and 18 points. His +28 led all rookie defenseman. Cowen is eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The two WHL games will be hosted in the province of Saskatchewan by the Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday, November 26th and the Prince Albert Raiders on Thursday, November 27th. Game tickets are available at the Prince Albert Raiders office (306) 764-4263 and at the Swift Current Broncos office (306) 773-1509 Ext. 1.
Since the introduction of the ADT Canada Russia Challenge in 2003, Team WHL has posted a 9-1 record against the Russian National Junior Team, outscoring their opponent 52-17. Overall the Canadian Hockey League has a 25-5 record during the ADT Canada Russia Challenge.
The WHL also announced today that Canadian National Junior Team Assistant Coach Willie Desjardins of the Medicine Hat Tigers will serve as Head Coach while the 2007-08 WHL Coach of the Year Don Nachbaur, of the Tri-City Americans, will act as Assistant Coach. Also, Broncos General Manager/Head Coach Dean Chynoweth will be an Assistant Coach during the Swift Current game and Raiders General Manager/Head Coach Bruno Campese will serve as Assistant Coach for the Prince Albert game.
"We are looking forward to bringing this major international series to two of our long standing small markets in Saskatchewan," commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, "It is the only time our top Canadian Players in the WHL have the opportunity to compete against their historic rivals from Russia."
Last year the CHL posted a 4-2 record during the series and have won the past five ADT Canada Russia Challenges which has coincided with the Canadian National Junior Team going on to win four straight gold medals at the World Junior Championship.