Eight Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) alumni have been selected to represent Team Canada’s U18 squad at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
The tournament will begin July 31, 2022 in Red Deer, AB at the Peavey Mart Centrium and run until August 6.
Zachary Benson spent two seasons in the CSSHL with the Yale Hockey Academy U15 Prep team. The Chilliwack, BC forward would tally 19 points in 28 games during the 2018/19 season as Yale would capture a CSSHL U15 Prep League Championship. He would finish the following season with a division best 56 assists and 86 points while being named the U15 Prep division MVP. The Winnipeg Ice would select Benson in the first round, 14th overall at the 2022 Western Hockey League (WHL) Draft. Benson, who will serve as an assistant captain for Canada, recorded 20 points in 24 WHL games during the 2020/21 season, before adding 63 in 58 games this past year.
A netminder from Carberry, MB, Carson Bjarnason spent the 2020/21 season with the RINK Hockey Academy Winnipeg U16 Prep team recording a 2.01 Goals Against Average (GAA) and .914 Save Percentage (SV%). Bjarnason made the Brandon Wheat Kings as an undrafted WHL free agent in 2021/22, playing 23 games while finishing with a 4.00 GAA and .882 SV%.
Andrew Cristall played three seasons with St. George’s School. Cristall would play two years with their U15 Prep team, recording seasons of 52 and 80 points in a total of 57 games. He would record four points in four U18 Prep games during the 2020/21 season. Selected in the first round, eight overall at the 2020 WHL Draft by the Kelowna Rockets the Burnaby, BC forward has tallied 74 points in 75 WHL games, including 69 in 61 games this past season.
Selected in the first round, fifth overall at the 2020 WHL Draft by the Saskatoon Blades, Tanner Molendyk has tallied 20 points in 72 WHL games. Prior to his time in the WHL the Kamloops, BC defenseman played two seasons for Yale. During the 2019/20 season Molendyk was named the CSSHL U15 Prep division Top Defenseman as he set CSSHL single season records among defenseman for assists (46), points (55) and points per game (2.04). He would add six points in five U18 Prep games the following season.
A netminder from Irma, AB Scott Ratzlaff spent the 2020/21 season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) U16 Prep team recording a shutout in his lone game. Ratzlaff was selected in the second round, 43rd overall making him the first goalie selected in the 2020 WHL Draft. In 25 WHL games with the Seattle Thunderbirds Ratzlaff owns a 2.51 GAA and .902 SV%.
Calgary, AB goalie Jackson Unger completes the CSSHL trio in net for Canada. Unger spent the 2020/21 and part of the 2021/22 seasons in the CSSHL with the Edge School U18 Prep team. In 9 games he recorded a 2.35 GAA and .891 SV%. The Moose Jaw Warriors selected Unger in the third round, 53rd overall at the 2020 WHL Draft. In 18 WHL games with the Warriors this past season Unger recorded a 3.60 GAA and .891 SV%.
Selected in the first round, 18th overall by the Spokane Chiefs at the 2020 WHL Draft, Saige Weinstein spent the 2019/20 season with the NAX U15 Prep team, recording 4 goals and 16 assists in 20 games. The Edmonton, AB defenseman would join the Chiefs in 2021/22, recording 14 points in 59 WHL games.
Matthew Wood played the 2019/20 CSSHL season with the West Van Academy U15 Prep team where he would tally 40 goals and 31 assists in 30 games while capturing the CSSHL U15 Prep Most Sportsmanlike Award. Selected in the second round, 41st overall by the Regina Pats at the 2020 WHL Draft, the Lethbridge, AB forward would join the Victoria Grizzlies for the 2020/21 British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) season, recording 13 points in 18 games. 2021/22 would see Wood earn BCHL All-Rookie Team, and BCHL First Team All-Star honours, while leading the league in goals (45) and points (85) as he was named BCHL Rookie of the Year (Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy) and BCHL Top Scorer (Brett Hull Trophy).