CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has unveiled 27 players who will attend Canada’s National Para Development League (PDL) at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, Nov. 16-19 in Calgary.
The PDL is an effort by Hockey Canada to create more competitive touchpoints with its para hockey athletes through the season, and provides an opportunity for NextGen athletes to gain experience alongside national team members.
Three goaltenders, nine defence and 15 forwards were selected by Marshall Starkman (Thornhill, ON), manager of hockey operations, and Russ Herrington (Unionville, ON), head coach of Canada’s National Para Hockey Team, to participate in small-area training sessions and three intrasquad games.
“We are eager to introduce a new component to our in-season evaluation process, featuring national team and NextGen athletes,” Starkman said. “The PDL will be a unique opportunity to enhance our game play, while providing valuable experience to the next wave of aspiring national team players.”
The roster features 11 players who won a silver medal at the 2023 International Para Hockey Cup in Ostrava, Czechia last month (Boily, Dunn, Henry, Hurst, Jacobs-Webb, Kingsmill, LeBlanc, McGregor, Pellizzari), eight players who won a silver medal at the 2023 World Para Hockey Championship in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Boily, Cozzolino, Dunn, Henry, Jacobs-Webb, LeBlanc, McGregor, Smith), five who won a silver medal at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China (Dunn, Henry, Jacobs-Webb, Kingsmill, McGregor) and five rookies (Boutilier, Buchanan, Clements, Topping, White).
Hockey Canada has also announced that Mike Foligno (Sudbury, ON), Greg Ireland (Orangeville, ON) and Greg Westlake (Oakville, ON) will work with the players on the ice and behind the bench. Tara Chisholm (Medicine Hat, AB), head coach of Canada’s National Women’s Para Hockey Team, will also participate as a guest coach.
Foligno most recently won silver as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Para Hockey Team at the 2023 World Para Hockey Championship. He has been an assistant coach with Team Canada since 2018, having won a silver medal at the 2022 Paralympics. Foligno made his para hockey coaching debut during the 2017-18 season as a guest coach, and also led Canada's National Para Hockey Development Team as head coach. He played more than 1,000 career NHL games and represented Canada on three occasions at the IIHF World Championship (1981, 1986, 1987), winning a bronze medal in 1986.
Ireland spent the 2022-23 season as head coach of Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). His coaching career began in 1992 with the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and includes stops with the Grand Rapids Griffins (2003-07) and San Antonio Rampage (2007-10) of the American Hockey League (AHL), Owen Sound Attack (2011-15) of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), HC Lugano (2016-19) in the National League (NL) in Switzerland and HC Bolzano (2019-22) in the ICE Hockey League (ICEHL) in Italy. Internationally, he has served as head coach for Italy at the IIHF World Championship (2020, 2021) and for China at the Division 1B Worlds (2022).
Westlake will make his international coaching debut after concluding his playing career with a silver medal at his fifth Paralympic Winter Games in 2022. He made his Team Canada debut in 2003 at age 17 and finished his career with 369 points (175–194—369) in 240 games played. His résumé includes a Paralympic gold medal (2006), three IPC World Para Hockey Championship gold medals (2008, 2013, 2017) and four Para Hockey Cup/World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold medals (2008, 2011, 2011, 2013).
Canada’s National Para Hockey Team will head to Quispamsis, New Brunswick, for the 2023 Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 3-9.
For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Para Hockey Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.