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Hockey Canada selects coaching staffs for national men’s under-17 teams

Gibson, Robitaille, Williams to lead Canadian teams at 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

July 5, 2018

CALGARY, Alta. – Nine coaches have been selected to lead Canada’s national men’s under-17 teams throughout development camp and at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, set for Nov. 3-10 in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B.

Brett Gibson (Gananoque, Ont./Queen’s University, OUA) will serve as the head coach of Team Canada White, Louis Robitaille (Montreal/Victoriaville, QMJHL) will head Team Canada Red, and Dennis Williams (Stratford, Ont./Everett, WHL) will lead Team Canada Black.

Sylvain Favreau (Orleans, Ont./Halifax, QMJHL) and Troy Smith (Hamilton, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) have been named assistant coaches for Team Canada Black, while Dylan Hunter (London, Ont./London, OHL) and Daniel Renaud (Gatineau, Que./Shawinigan, QMJHL) will serve as an assistant coaches with Team Canada White. Joining Robitaille behind the bench with Team Canada Red are Dave Matsos (Burlington, Ont./Hamilton, OHL) and Mark O’Leary (Owen Sound, Ont./Moose Jaw, WHL).

“This country produces not only great players, but also great coaches. We had a tremendous amount of very qualified applicants, and the decisions were not easy,” said Shawn Bullock, Hockey Canada’s senior manager of hockey operations and men’s national teams. “The coaches we selected to lead our national men’s under-17 teams this summer and at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge have considerable coaching experience from many different levels of hockey. Each coach brings something unique to the program, and we look forward to their leadership as they help develop the top young players in Canada.”

Gibson just completed his 12th season for Queen’s University of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference of U SPORTS. He coached the Gaels to their ninth consecutive playoff appearance, leading to their first Queen’s Cup and University Cup appearances in 37 years. Gibson was an assistant coach with Team Canada White at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He was also head coach of Canada’s men’s hockey team for the 2017 Winter Universiade, winning a bronze medal, and was named OUA coach of year twice (2007-08, 2013-14), earning the CIS Coach of the Year award in 2013-14. As a player, Gibson spent four years with St. Mary’s University following four seasons of junior hockey in the OHL with Erie, London, and North Bay. 

Robitaille just completed his second season as head coach of the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL, following five seasons as an assistant coach with the Drummondville Voltigeurs (2011-15) and Val d’Or Foreurs (2015-16). Robitaille was an assistant coach with Team Canada Black at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and won IIHF U18 World Championship bronze in 2015 as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team. He also served as a guest coach for Canada’s national under-17 development camp in 2014. As a player, he played eight seasons of professional hockey in the AHL, Italy, and the UHL. Robitaille won the Calder Cup with the AHL’s Hershey Bears in 2006, and also played four seasons of junior hockey with the Montreal Rocket in the QMJHL. 

Williams recently completed his first season as head coach of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, leading the team to its second-consecutive U.S. Division title. Under his leadership, the Silvertips set a franchise record with 246 goals and finished the season with 47 wins, the second-most in team history. He began his head coaching career with Neuman College of the NCAA, serving as head coach from 2004-07 before moving on to Bowling Green State University for one season in 2009-10. Williams has also served as head coach in the junior ranks, including stints in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Amarillo Bulls from 2011-14, and the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Bloomington Thunder from 2014-17. 

Favreau just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the Halifax Mooseheads. Prior to making the jump to the QMJHL, he served as both an assistant (2009-11) and head coach (2011-15) of the Gloucester Rangers of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). Favreau also spent one season as head coach and director of hockey operations for the CCHL’s Cumberland Grads, and was a guest coach with Hockey Canada at the national under-17 development camp in 2017. As a player, he spent five seasons playing professionally in both France and Germany.

Hunter has served as an assistant coach with the London Knights of the OHL since 2011, helping the team capture the 2016 Memorial Cup in Red Deer, Alta. He also served as a guest coach at Canada’s national under-17 development camp in 2017. Prior to his coaching career, Hunter played in 315 games for the Knights from 2001-06, winning the Memorial Cup in 2005, and was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played in more than 300 games over five seasons in the AHL and ECHL. 

Matsos just completed his first season as associate coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs, winning the OHL championship. Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Matsos’ OHL experience included four seasons with the Sudbury Wolves, starting as an associate coach before taking over head coaching duties during the 2014-15 season. He also served as an assistant coach with the Windsor Spitfires for three seasons between 2010 and 2013. Matsos began his coaching career in England with the Sheffield Steelers (EIHL) from 2006 to 2010. He played for Team Canada at the 1996 IIHF World Championship, winning a silver medal. As a player, he played over 400 games in 10 seasons in the AHL, DEL, EIHL, and NIHL, and also played four seasons of junior hockey with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

O’Leary has been an assistant coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors since the 2012-13 season. Following three seasons playing in the OHL – for Mississauga and Guelph – O’Leary headed to the Lone Star State to play in the CHL, where he ended his career in 2010-11 after stints in the ECHL and AHL.

Fresh off his role with Team Canada as assistant coach at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship, Renaud just completed his first season as head coach of the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL following four seasons as an assistant coach with the Rimouski Océanic (2011-12) and Quebec Remparts (2014-17), as well as two seasons with the Intrépide de Gatineau (2012-14) of the LHMAAAQ. Renaud was an assistant coach with Team Quebec at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville and Drummondville, Que., finishing fourth.

Smith returns to a coaching role at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge under the tournament’s new format, having been an assistant coach three times with Team Ontario, and a head coach twice between 2008 and 2013, picking up two gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. Immediately following his playing career, which included two seasons playing professional hockey in the ECHL, UHL, and EIHL, Smith spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL before taking on the head coaching role in 2013. He joined the Hamilton Bulldogs as assistant general manager and associate coach in 2015-16, before being hired by the Saginaw Spirit as head coach prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. 

For more information on Hockey Canada and the Program of Excellence, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook, Twitter and Twitter.com/HC_Men.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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