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Team BC Preview for Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup kicked off today, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at WinSport in Calgary, Alberta.  The tournament features the highest-rated players in the U16 category representing the four (4) Western Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The majority of the players participating in the event were selected in the Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft in May 2016. Many of these top young prospects will play major roles on WHL clubs in the 
seasons ahead.

Team BC heads into their sixth appearance at the tournament, seeking to claim their second gold medal after previously bringing it home in 2012.  BC has also won other medals at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, claiming silver in 2013 and bronze in 2009, 2011 and 2015.

Team BC boasts five (5) players who were first-round picks in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft:

WHL Rank



WHL Team


Josh Williams


Medicine Hat Tigers


Sasha Mutala


Tri-City Americans


Massimo Rizzo


Kamloops Blazers


Jackson Van de Leest


Calgary Hitmen


Jacson Alexander


Swift Current Broncos

Earlier this week, Rizzo was named Team BC captain, with Williams and Van de Leest as assistants.  With their leadership, combined with Mutala’s charge on the ice and puckmover Alexander, Team BC has a very good chance of reclaiming top place in Western Canada.

“Mutala sees the ice really well and he’s the kid who can simply lead by example – focusing on having strong shifts, focusing on finishing checks and making smart plays,” commented Team BC Head Coach, Jamie Fiset.

In net, the team is set with Jesse Makaj (North Vancouver), a second round pick of the Kootenay Ice and Roman Basran (Delta), a third round pick of the Kelowna Rockets.

Along with Van de Leest and Alexander on the blue-line are: second round pick of the Tri-City Americans Mitchell Brown (Salmon Arm), Seattle Thunderbirds hopeful Layton Ahac (North Vancouver), Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Austin Herron (Abbotsford) and Rockets future Jayden Lee (North Vancouver).

“Our defense guys are very steady,” Mutala said. “We’ve got some real good defensive guys at the same time, so there’s a good mixture of puckmovers, skaters and heavy hitters.”

The depth continues up front with Mutala, Williams and Rizzo being joined by many skilled players, fast skaters and guys who can put the puck in the back of the net.

“We have a good mix of really skilled guys – a lot of goal scorers – and a lot of good checkers and heavy hitters,” added Mutala.  ‘We have a good balanced team.”

“The team has a good mix of hockey smarts, skills, size and speed; all traits Team BC needs to perform at this tournament,” said Team BC Director of Operations, Derek Cranfield.  “The entire group is honoured to represent BC and BC Hockey and are looking forward to working together to have a great tournament.”

Click here for the full Team BC roster.  

The Team BC Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup schedule is:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016




Thursday, October 20, 2016




Friday, October 21, 2016




All games are listed in Pacific Standard Time (PST) and will be available online through WHL Live Broadcasts’.  Click here to view.  The tournament wraps up on Sunday, October 23, 2016 with the bronze and gold medal matchups.

2016 Western Canada Challenge Cup Schedule

The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup is a four (4) team round robin format and is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence for players.  Additionally, the event assists the four (4) provincial hockey associations in evaluating top prospects for future high performance programs.

Many National Hockey League (NHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) players have played at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup including: Griffin Reinhart (West Vancouver, Edmonton Oilers), Morgan Reilly (West Vancouver, Toronto Maple Leafs), Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, Vancouver Canucks), Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, Seattle Thunderbirds) and Jansen Harkins (North Vancouver, Prince George Cougars).

For more information on the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, click here.

The U16 Program is the second stage in the BC Hockey High Performance Program, which exposes players, coaches and officials to short term competition. The U16 Program also acts as a precursor to the Hockey Canada High Performance U17 Program, which is used to identify and train players and team personnel for provincial, regional and national teams.

For more information about BC Hockey, please visit the BC Hockey website at or email or follow along through social media at,, or



BC Hockey is a non-profit organization and member branch of Hockey Canada in charge of governing amateur hockey at all levels in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

Approximately 150 minor hockey associations, 55,000 players, 4,500 referees, 20,000 official volunteers and countless others make our great game possible here in Pacific Canada.



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