Warriors' Trio Excited to Share World Junior Camp Experience

December 5, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Moose Jaw Warriors News Release

For the first time in the Moose Jaw Warriors' 40 years, the organization will be sending three players to Hockey Canada's National Junior Team Selection Camp.

Jagger Firkus, Denton Mateychuk and Brayden Yager were among the 30 players named to the camp roster on Tuesday.

"It's an awesome feeling to get that call and go to a camp with a couple of your teammates to try and represent your country," Mateychuk said.

The Warriors have had two players on Canada's roster at the World Juniors on two occasions previously in 1987 (Theoren Fleury and Mike Keane) and 2002 (Nathan Paetsch and Brian Sutherby).

Yager said it's an honour to be invited to the camp and getting to share it with two teammates makes it even more special.

"It's a great feeling to get the opportunity to represent your country and to get the chance to do it with these two guys as well is pretty cool," he said.

"I'm pretty tight with these two guys, I've been playing with them for the last couple of years now and even grew up with them, so it's pretty special to get this opportunity as a trio and I'm really looking forward to it."

Yager and Mateychuk have previously had the opportunity to wear the maple leaf, representing Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and World Under-18 Hockey Championship, respectively.

For Firkus, this will be a new experience and one that he said he's looking forward to.

"It would mean the world to put that maple leaf on your chest and going to this camp is giving me the opportunity to make the team," Firkus said. "Your mentality going to the camp is you want to have the best impression possible for the staff and that's my goal going there."

All three players were drafted and developed by the Warriors.

General Manager Jason Ripplinger said it's great for the organization and community to be represented by these three players on the international stage.

"These players have been here since they were 14, they bought into the culture of what we're trying to do here and they deserved to be picked," he said.

"It starts from our scouting staff, we've identified these players to be good hockey players and good people and they've done everything we've asked them do."

Warriors head coach Mark O'Leary said he's excited to watch all three players represent Canada.

"We watch the World Juniors every year, but any chance you have to have players represented, it makes it a little bit more special, so I'm hoping to see these three guys there this Christmas," he said.

While he's excited about the opportunity in front of them, O'Leary said it will also be a test for the team to fill in the gap while they're gone.

"It's an opportunity for other guys to fill in, but certainly those guys leave a hole," he said.

Firkus currently leads the Warriors in scoring with 24 goals and 49 points in 26 games this season, which are both third in the Western Hockey League.

Mateychuk is second among defencemen in scoring in the WHL with 33 points over the course of a 21-game point streak to start the season.

Yager is off to his best of his WHL career with 17 goals and 39 points in 25 games, which are both 11th in the WHL.

Firkus said their familiarity with each other can help them at the camp.

"We've played together quite a bit over the last couple of years here, so you have a bit more comfortability and familiarity with each other, so that's good," he said.

The three players depart for Canada's National Junior Team Selection Camp on Sunday in Oakville, ON. The camp will include a pair of games against the U SPORTS all-stars on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13.

Canada will leave for Sweden on Dec. 14 to begin pre-tournament action ahead of the start of the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship on Boxing Day against Finland.

• Discuss this story on the Western Hockey League message board...

Western Hockey League Stories from December 5, 2023

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Moose Jaw Warriors Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central