Two elite New Brunswick natives will suit up for Team Canada close to home
when the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge comes to Saint John and
Quispamsis, N.B., from Nov. 3-10.
Josh Lawrence of Fredericton and Lukas Cormier of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent will
have the opportunity to represent their country on home ice – an experience
neither is taking lightly.
“It’s really exciting to play for Canada and it’s definitely an advantage
to be on home ice in front of the hometown fans,” said Lawrence, a forward
with the Saint John Sea Dogs. “Canada has some great fans and Saint John
especially loves hockey, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to be able to
play in front of them.”
The 16-year-old forward will play for Canada Black at the event. Lawrence
is in his first year with the Sea Dogs after going 15th overall in the 2018
QMJHL draft. He credits the Hockey New Brunswick High Performance Program
(HPP) with preparing him to play on the international stage.
“Being able to play for HNB U14, U15, U16, they’re all great experiences,”
he says. “At that moment of my life, it’s a lot of pressure. But it helps
build and prepare you for U17. It’s a lot of fun to be able to play. Hockey
New Brunswick has been really great to me.”
The Hockey New Brunswick High Performance Program gives players and coaches
the opportunity to be around the best in New Brunswick and be exposed to
the elite level many will see in junior, university and national programs.
Cormier, a defenceman with Canada Red, is a rookie with the Charlottetown
Islanders, who took him at No. 4 in the 2018 QMJHL draft. The 16-year-old
also participated in the HPP, which exposed him to the best of the best and
helped expand his skill-set.
“I’ve played in New Brunswick all my life,” Cormier says. “Playing against
the best players helped me know where I stand and pushed me to get better,
to see how I have to train to get where I want to go.”
Cormier got a taste of short-term competition last spring when his Moncton
Flyers reached the TELUS Cup, Canada’s National Midget Championship. The
Flyers didn’t make it past the preliminary round, but the experience
prepared him for competing at a national level. Now, he’s ready to compete
“It’s going to be an unreal experience once we get on the ice,” he says.
“It was exciting when I got the call and I can’t wait to represent my
country for the first time. It’s a huge honour.”
Cormier is up first when Canada Red faces Russia on Nov. 3 at the qplex in
Quispamsis, while Lawrence will debut in an all-Canadian match-up between
Black and White on Nov. 4 at Harbour Station in Saint John.