Cassan coaches at world event

Trent Cassan, head coach and general manager of the Yorkton Junior ‘A’  Terriers will be away from the team up until the SJHL Christmas break as he assumes head coaching duties with Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.

Cassan is currently at the Team West camp in Calgary in preparation for the tourney scheduled for Dec. 14-20 in Kindersley, Sask.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a really good opportunity,” Cassan told Yorkton This Week back in September when appointed to the position by Hockey Canada, adding it’s a definite honour to be selected through Hockey Canada to head a team at the international level.

Cassan, 31, makes his second appearance with Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, having won a bronze medal as an assistant coach in 2013.

And in 2012 he was a guest coach helping with the team selection process.

Cassan will be joined by assistant coaches Tim Fragle (head coach and general manager, Sherwood Park Crusaders, Alberta Junior Hockey League), Luke Pierce (head coach and general manager, Merritt Centennials, British Columbia Hockey League) and Jason Williamson (head coach and general manager, Vernon Vipers, British Columbia Hockey League).

Cassan said it is important to have coaches connected to leagues across the west which the team will draw from because it is simply impossible for one coach to travel to see every prospective player who might deserve an invitation to an evaluation camp.

Cassan said recently that heading to Calgary for the evaluation camp will be a good experience for everyone involved because the Hockey Canada facility and program is first class all the way.

But the pressure will still be on because the team has only a few days to pick a final roster for the tournament, said Cassan.

The team while Junior cannot have any 20-year-olds and only five 19-year-olds on the roster.

Representing the SJHL at the Team West selection camp are netminder Evan Weninger with Kindersley, defencemen Connor Hobbs from the Nipawin Hawks, former Terrier and current Flin Flon Bomber Tanner Lishchynsky, and Notre Dame Hound Spencer Trapp, plus forwards Reed Delainey from Battlefords, Kindersley’s Owen LaClare and Cody Young, along with Estevan’s Lynden Pastachak

Cassan said when bringing the best of a number of leagues together you recognize the players all have talent, so you look for players who can “get up and down the ice,” and are working hard to make the roster.

That said, Cassan said players will be naturally motivated too.

“To get to play for Team Canada is a big thing,” he noted.

So the coaches will evaluate through camp and a lone exhibition game to make final choices and hope it all comes together through the tournament,  said Cassan.

Cassan has been head coach and general manager in Yorkton for the past five seasons, leading the team to the SJHL championship and RBC Cup national championship last season. A Terriers alumnus (2002-04), Cassan was named SJHL Coach of the Year in 2012-13.

Canada West has appeared in six of the eight gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenge, winning gold in 2006 (Yorkton/Humboldt, Sask.), 2007 (Trail/Nelson, B.C.), and 2012 (Langley, B.C.). It also won silver in 2008 (Camrose, Alta.), 2009 (Summerside, P.E.I.), and 2012 (Yarmouth, N.S.), and won bronze in 2013 (Yarmouth, N.S.).  It finished fourth in 2010 (Penticton, B.C.).

Team West will play its first tournament game Dec. 14, against Team Denmark.

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