u17 ssm all star team
Pride of the Greyhounds
More than three dozen Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have worn their country’s colours at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge since 1986, but who are the starting six?
David Brien
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October 28, 2016
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A quick glance at the names who have come and gone through the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on their way to recognizable – and often Hall of Fame-worthy – professional careers reveals an impressive list.

Just look into the rafters at the Essar Centre – Vanbiesbrouck, Hartsburg, Foote, Francis, Gretzky. Not bad.

So it’s not a huge surprise that the Greyhounds have a strong connection to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge; since the first tournament in 1986, 38 players who have suited up in the Soo have got international experience at the U17 level. (Barrett Hayton makes it 39 this year.)

Those alumni have combined for 12 gold medals, three silver and five bronze. Again, not bad.

But which six players would make up the starting line-up for Greyhounds U17 alumni?

GOALTENDER – KYLE GAJEWSKI
U17: Ontario 2004 (gold) – 4GP 3-0-1 2.00GAA .904SV% 1SO
SSM: 2004-2008 – 214GP 114-89-0 2.72GAA .906SV% 12SO

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “It was a great experience. You got to meet guys you had played against in AAA and in other leagues growing up. Just getting to play with those guys, and not against them, was really cool. Development-wise, you’re playing against the best and most skilled guys. For a goalie, it’s definitely a better challenge; the guys are better, so the game was a lot faster.”

On playing in the Soo: “It’s definitely very cold up there, but the fans are awesome. I’m pretty sure we sold out every game I played there; [the fans] turn up even in terrible weather. It’s a nice small town that has a lot of family-owned restaurants and all. It’s awesome people. They know their hockey and love their hockey.”

DEFENCE – TREVOR DALEY
U17: Ontario 2000 (silver) – 6GP 5G 3A 8P
SSM: 2000-2003 – 216GP 59G 129A 188P

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “It was exciting. I think to be selected to play was a great accomplishment; it definitely paved the way in terms of my confidence and to better myself. Now that I’m looking back at it, it was a good measuring stick for me; you got to play against the best players your age coming from around Canada, but you also got to measure yourself up with the best of the other countries.”

On playing in the Soo: “Being a Toronto boy that’s from the city, the Soo was the furthest possible spot I could go. But I embraced it and quickly realized how much of a hockey town that is. It’s actually a place that I call home in the summertime; it’s a great environment, a great hockey town and they just love their hockey there. What I learned going through there is the mentality of the town; work hard and if you do, it pays off.”

DEFENCE – DARNELL NURSE
U17: Ontario 2012 (bronze) – 5GP 1G 2A 3P
SSM: 2011-2015 – 221GP 36G 98A 134P

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “The first time I got to put on the Canadian crest was at that tournament. It was a huge honour to be a part of and where I built new friendships and started new rivalries. It was a great step for me because it gave me the opportunity to go out there and play against the best players from Europe and from our age group. It allows you to gauge yourself against players you’ll face in the future.”

On playing in the Soo: “Hockey is the number one ticket. Everyone from the city supports not only the Greyhounds, but really just the game of hockey. The players can definitely expect great crowds because they have very passionate and very knowledgeable fans that follow this game throughout their whole lives. And the restaurants in the Soo, they were amazing!”

FORWARD – JEFF CARTER
U17: Ontario 2002 (bronze) – 6GP 5G 3A 8P
SSM: 2001-2005 – 236GP 123G 123A 246P

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “That was kind of the first taste I got of playing for Team Canada and playing against international competition. It was another step in the road. Even though it was for Team Ontario, it was still a part of Hockey Canada. And anytime you get a chance like that to play against the best players, it gives you another way of developing and playing against the best competition.”

FORWARD – JOE THORNTON
U17: Ontario 1995 (gold) – 6GP 1G 8A 9P
SSM: 1995-1997 – 125GP 71G 127A 198P

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “I think you learn how to become a friend. There are a lot of characters on different teams, but you all have to become friends at some point. To this day, I still have friends from that team that I still talk to. I think your work ethic [benefits], too; getting up in the early hours to go to practice and all that. I remember winning it, everybody was so excited. It was a pretty cool tournament.”

On playing in the Soo: “My souvenirs from playing in the Soo are great. The support the Greyhounds get throughout the community is special; I remember the people just being die-hard fans who love their hockey and everything that it brings to the community. It’s just a blue collar town – it’s way up north – and come Saturday night, all the people want to do is watch hockey.”

FORWARD – SERGEI TOLCHINSKY
U17: Russia 2012 (gold) – 6GP 6G 0A 6P
SSM: 2012-2015 – 189GP 87G 150A 237P

On playing at the U17 Challenge: “I think it was a really important tournament for me because a lot of scouts were watching. Especially for European guys, it’s a chance to show off and allow NHL scouts to see them and hopefully draft them after. After the tournament, a couple of managers from OHL teams came up to me and that’s how I got drafted to the CHL. It was really good for my career because I spent three years in the OHL after that and I think that’s helped me develop and move forward with my career.”

On playing in the Soo: “Sault Ste. Marie was just amazing. It’s a great hockey town and they have great fans there. It was something new for me, having 4,000 fans at our games. The town has a lot of history because a lot of great players played there, guys like Gretzky, Francis and Coffey. It’s not just in the Soo though, I think any city you go to in Canada people will love hockey there.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-284-6427
Mobile: 403-612-2893
[email protected]

 

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