Monday, August 25, 2014

Canada West World Junior A Challenge Coaching Staff Has Distinct BCHL Flavour:

Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League jointly announced the coaching staff today for the 2014 World Junior A Challenge from December 14 - 20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

Although Trent Cassan, a coach from the SJHL was named as the Head Coach for Canada West, there is a distinct BCHL flavour to Cassan's assistants.

Merritt Centennials GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce along with Vernon Vipers GM and Head Coach Jason Williamson were both named assistants. Tim Fragle, who is the GM and Head Coach of the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Spruce Grove Saints, is a former BCHL player, having skated for the Trail Smoke Eaters from 1998 to 2000 before joining Merritt for eight games in the latter part of the 1999-00 season.

Of course, in addition to the managerial roles they each have now, Pierce and Williamson are both former BCHL players. Williamson played three seasons for the Vipers from 1999 to 2002 and Pierce spent two seasons as a Centennial from 2001 to 2003 before joining Vernon for his 20-year-old season of 2003-04.

Canada West hasn't won gold at the WJAC since 2011, but has claimed a medal at every tournament since its inception in 2006. Canada West won the bronze last year.

Here's the release from the CJHL regarding today's announcement:

The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in partnership with Hockey Canada, announced today that Trent Cassan, head coach and general manager of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Yorkton Terriers, will be the head coach of Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, scheduled for Dec. 14-20 in Kindersley, Sask.

Cassan will be joined by assistant coaches Tim Fragle (head coach and general manager, Sherwood Park Crusaders, Alberta Junior Hockey League), Luke Pierce (head coach and general manager, Merritt Centennials, British Columbia Hockey League) and Jason Williamson (head coach and general manager, Vernon Vipers, British Columbia Hockey League).

“I am honoured and excited to be able to work with many of the top CJHL players from all over Western Canada,” said Cassan. “The World Junior A Challenge is a first-class event with premier players from all over the world. My experience at the 2013 event in Yarmouth, N.S., was a positive one, and I look forward to working with the staff and representing Canada West in Kindersley in December.”

Trent Cassan, 31, will make his second appearance with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, having won a bronze medal as an assistant coach in 2013. Cassan has been head coach and general manager in Yorkton for the past five seasons, leading the team to the SJHL championship and RBC Cup national championship last season. A Terriers alumnus (2002-04), Cassan was named SJHL Coach of the Year in 2012-13.

Tim Fragle, 34, will be an assistant coach with Canada West for the first time at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.  Entering his fifth year as head coach and general manager in Sherwood Park, Fragle has 16 years of coaching and instructional experience.  He finished his CJHL playing career with the Crusaders, serving as captain in 2000-01.

Luke Pierce, 31, will make his first appearance with Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. The head coach of Team West at the 2013 CJHL Prospects Games, Pierce has been the head coach and general manager of the Centennials for the past five seasons, guiding Merritt to the playoffs every year, and winning BCHL Interior Division Coach of the Year honours in 2012-13.

Jason Williamson, 33, will be an assistant coach with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge for the first time. He has been the head coach and general manager in Vernon for the past four years, and was an assistant coach for three years prior to that. Williamson has made four trips to the RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship, winning the national title with the Vipers in 2009 and 2010, and finishing as runner-up in 2011. He played three seasons in Vernon (1999-2002), making two trips to the BCHL final.

Canada West has appeared in six of the eight gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenge, winning gold in 2006 (Yorkton/Humboldt, Sask.), 2007 (Trail/Nelson, B.C.), and 2012 (Langley, B.C.). It also won silver in 2008 (Camrose, Alta.), 2009 (Summerside, P.E.I.), and 2012 (Yarmouth, N.S.), and won bronze in 2013 (Yarmouth, N.S.).  It finished fourth in 2010 (Penticton, B.C.).

For more information on the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, please visit www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac, or follow along through social media at www.facebook.com/wjrac and www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.

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