Thunder Bay North Star is lone SIJHL player at national team try-outs
Keighan Gerrie is vying for a spot on the Canada West team for the World Junior A Challenge
Thunder Bay North Stars hockey player Keighan Gerrie is in Alberta this week trying out for the Canada West team for the World Junior A Challenge, which takes place Dec. 9-16 in Bonnyville, Alta.
Gerrie, who was named Rookie of the Year by the Superior International Junior Hockey League last year, is the league's only player invited to the try-outs for the second year in a row.
He made the initial cut last year when the roster of potential players was whittled down from 60 to 40, but he failed to make the team, which went on to win the tournament, Graham added.
"Obviously going in there now as a 17-year-old with another year of experience under his belt at the Junior A level, and based on the success he's had this year with the Thunder Bay North Stars, we hope he has a very good chance to make the club," he said.
Typically, one to three players from the SIJHL are chosen to try out for the Canada West team each year, but none have made the cut since a former rule mandating the team to have representation from each league was stricken from the books, said the league's director of communications Tom Annelin.
'He's a very special player'
"We've had some very good players go to the camp, but again, with some of the numbers and experience of players from Western Canada, it's made it difficult for our players to actually make the grade," Graham said.
The last player from the league to play in the Challenge was Fort Frances Lakers goaltender Jamieson Shortreed, who competed in 2010.
The last North Star to play in the tournament was defenceman Kyle Breukelman, who won silver with the 2009 team.
Gerrie has been drafted by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and is also being courted by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools in the United States, Graham said.
"You talk to some people in town who follow hockey pretty closely in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, and a lot of people think Keighan is probably the best player to come out of Thunder Bay in the last ten years," he added.
"If this is Keighan's last season playing in Thunder Bay, fans should really get out to see him because he's a very special player."
This year's World Junior A Challenge features teams from Canada West, Canada East, Russia, the U.S. and the Czech Republic.