UPDATE: Noah Juulsen was named to Team Canada on Thursday afternoon. The News spoke to him on Dec. 9 following the Everett Silvertips win against the Vancouver Giants.
In front of his friends and family in the stands at the Langley Events Centre on Dec. 9, Abbotsford’s Noah Juulsen proved why there’s a strong chance he will wear the red and white later this month.
Winning has occurred often for Juulsen and the Silvertips, who sit in first place in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. division, with a record of 22 wins, four losses and five overtime losses. Everett has only allowed 64 goals in 31 games this season, and Juulsen has been a big part of that.
Drafted in the first round of the NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens in 2015, the defenceman has nine goals and 11 assists this season and is regarded as one of the top defenders in the league.
His strong play has once again attracted the attention of Team Canada, and it was learned a few weeks back that Juulsen was one of 32 players invited to the Team Canada selection camp for the annual world junior tournament.
Representing Canada is nothing new for Juulsen, as he earned silver in 2014 at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. He received an invite to last year’s selection camp, but was one of the team’s final cuts.
He said it would be a thrill to play for Team Canada in the same tournament that has created so many memories for Canadian hockey fans.
“It would mean everything to me,” he said, following his team’s win over the Giants. “It’s every kid’s dream growing up to be invited to play on that team and hopefully this year I can make it.”
Juulsen left for Quebec on Dec. 10, with the tryouts running until Dec. 14. Exhibition games against university teams follow, with the final decision on the team being made sometime next week.
The tournament kicks off on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), with Canada opening against Russia. This year’s event is being hosted in Montreal and Toronto.
Players will rejoin their teams in January, and Juulsen said the stretch drive should be exciting, with Everett one of the favourites to contend.
“It’s been a good year for us and for me personally,” he said. “The team is doing really well, and as long as we play our game every night, I think we can go a long way.”
Juulsen, who starred on the Abbotsford Hawks bantam minor hockey team and at the Yale Hockey Academy, signed an entry-level contract with the Canadiens in 2015. He attended rookie camp in 2015 and main camp in 2016, and also suited up for several exhibition games with the storied franchise.
“They’re happy with how I’m doing,” he said, adding he looks forward to more opportunities with the team.
For more on the world junior hockey tournament, visit worldjunior2017.com.