Williams Lake’s Dane Birks will attend Hockey Canada’s team Canada West selection camp in preparation for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge.
The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, currently a member of the British Columbia Hockey League’s Merritt Centennials, was among 66 players selected. Just 19 were chosen from B.C.
The former Williams Lake midget Timberwolf was drafted this past summer in the sixth round (164th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Players named to the Canada West selection camp roster were chosen from the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s five western junior A leagues.
The camp takes place Oct. 26-30 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, Alta. Players will be divided into four teams and will play six intrasquad games in addition to daily practices.
The 2013 World Junior A Challenge will be held Nov. 4-10 at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth, NS.
Canada West will play in Group B with the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Group A will include Canada East, Russia and the U.S.
Canada has appeared in six of the seven gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenges winning gold in 2006, 2007 and 2011. It settled for silver in 2008, 2009, 2012.
For more information on the 2013 World Junior A Challenge visit www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac or follow along via social media at www.facebook.com/wjrac or at www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.
Penguins feature Birks in ‘Getting to Know’ section
The Pittsburgh Penguins recently added Williams Lake draft pick Dane Birks to its ‘Getting to Know’ feature section on its website.
Birks, 18, was drafted in the sixth round (164th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
“It was an unreal day,” Birks said of the draft. “I was nervous, excited and then once I saw my name come up I was overwhelmed. To get drafted by a team like the Penguins and to have the opportunity to one day play in the NHL is a dream come true. Lots of very hard work is ahead of me to complete my dream.”
Meanwhile Penguins co-director of amateur scouting, Randy Sexton, said he likes the upside of Birks’ game.
“He’s a little bit of a late bloomer, but he skates well, moves the puck well and is physical in his own way,” Sexton said. “He is one of those players that needs a little bit more time but obviously going the college route, he’ll get it.”
Birks, who has committed to the NCAA division one’s Michigan Tech Huskies, said his biggest strength is his ability to feel comfortable on the ice.
“It would probably be my skating, just natural ability,” Birks said. “The way I see the ice is just natural to me. I’m not the biggest guy so I try to move around and use the ice a lot, see the ice very well, try to make big plays and make people better.”
The six-foot-three, 190-pound defenseman was shot into NHL Draft discussions after beginning the 2012/13 year without being listed on NHL Central Scouting’s early players to watch list, however, a strong five-goal, 15-assist campaign with the Centennials earned him BCHL Rookie of the Year honours.
So far in 17 games with the Centennials this season Birks has a goal and nine assists.