Oakville’s Ritchie, George a step closer to making national team


Published July 27, 2023 at 11:23 am

Oakville native and Oshawa Generals forward Cal Ritchie was one of 45 players invited to take part in Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team virtual summer meetings. OHL IMAGES

Oakville’s Cal Ritchie and Isaiah George are one step closer to playing for Canada at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.

Ritchie, who was recently selected 27th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and George, who was taken in the fourth round (98th overall) by the New York Islanders, are among the 45 players from across the country who were invited to take part in Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team virtual summer meetings.

The recent meetings are considered the first step in making the final roster of players who will compete for Canada at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship being held in Gothenburg, Sweden in December.

Also taking part in the Program of Excellence summer meetings were 65 players looking to earn a spot on Canada’s national team for the upcoming 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

“This impressive group of athletes is an excellent representation of the talent pool in our country, and these meetings were a great opportunity to kick off a new season and begin our preparations for two major international events,” said Alan Millar, Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel.

“This was a great opportunity to introduce prospective national team players to the Program of Excellence and help prepare them for international competition.”

Ritchie, a forward with the Oshawa Generals, had three goals and six assists to lead Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team, to a bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championship in Switzerland.

The 18-year-old, who had 24 goals and 35 assists for 59 points last season with the Generals, also suited up for Team Canada Black at the 2021 Capital City Challenge, finishing with five goals and six assists in just five games.

George, 19, helped lead London to the Western Conference finals last season. The six-foot, 199-pound defenceman had seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points in 54 games with the Knights.

Oakville native James Barr was invited to take part in the meetings for the U-17 national team. The six-foot, 152-pound blueliner was selected by the Sarnia Sting in the second round (39th overall) of the OHL Priority Selection.

Players took part in virtual meetings that covered a variety of topics, including education on the Program of Excellence, sport safety presentations, short-term international competition preparation and meetings with the Hockey Canada management group.

Players will continue to be evaluated through the early portion of the 2023-24 season before Canadian rosters are named for the 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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