TSN’s Darren Dreger reported yesterday on the names of a few players that Hockey Canada will select to participate in the upcoming Karjala Cup, an international pro tournament that will serve as a pre-Olympic tune-up.
The tournament, held in Finland from November 8-12 of this year, usually features four teams, Finland, Sweden Russia, and the Czech Republic, but added Canada and Switzerland this year after it became clear that NHL players would not be participating in this year’s Olympic Games.
Among the usual “Oh yeah, that guy still plays hockey”-types selected for the tournament, Dreger also mentioned that two current NCAA players will be selected: Northeastern’s Dylan Sikura and Bemidji State’s Zach Whitecloud.
Sikura comes as little surprise. The wiry, highly-skilled forward has developed into one of the biggest scoring threats in college hockey. After scoring just seven points as a freshman, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect finished sixth nationally in scoring last season, tallying 57 points in 38 games. He has continued that pace early this season with 12 points in his first five games, which is best in the nation. His skill and offensive prowess should be a boost to Canada at the Olympics.
Whitecloud is perhaps more of a surprise. The sophomore defenseman and NHL free agent has flown more under-the-radar than Sikura, but is also a fine player. Listed at 6’1” 196 lbs., Whitecloud has a strong, solid frame with pro-caliber skating for his size. He showed increasing confidence on the offensive end as his freshman season progressed last year, and has developed into a workhorse for the Beavers. He has three assists, all coming on the power play, through four games this season.
While the Karjala Cup will likely serve as more of a tryout for Canada, and changes could come prior to the Olympics later this winter, it would appear that Sikura and Whitecloud are at least starting with an inside track towards representing their country at the 2018 games.