Kelowna Rockets Smart named to summer Ivan Hlinka Under-18 roster

Going into his second year with the Rockets, young blueliner makes Team Canada roster for U-18 event

Rockets defenceman Jonathan Smart was named to the Team Canada roster for the summer U-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament.

Kelowna Rockets defenceman Jonathan Smart will be spending a big part of his summer wearing the Team Canada sweater.

Smart was named to Team Canada’s men’s summer Under-18 team that will compete at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup this August.

Following a selection camp that included several intra-sqaud games, Hockey Canada announced the 22 players who have been selected to wear the Maple Leaf at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia, Aug. 8-13.

Smart played in 44 games last season as a rookie with the Rockets, scoring two goals and adding five assists while posting a plus-12 rating. Smart, a Kelowna Minor Hockey product, was the Rockets first pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, selected 22nd overall.

Led by head coach Paul McFarland (Richmond Hill, Ont./Kingston, OHL) and assistant coaches Darren Rumble (Barrie, Ont./Moncton, QMJHL) and Mark French (North Bay, Ont./Calgary, WHL), Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team will be looking for its ninth-consecutive gold medal at the event. Canada has taken the overall honours 20 times in the tournament’s 25-year history.

“The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup is a unique event for us because it’s one of the few opportunities we have to assemble the very best players in the country; the August timing doesn’t conflict with other league priorities, so it really sets up to be a best-on-best event and a great display of on-ice skill and talent,” said Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel. “Canadians can expect good speed, size, and talent from this year’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team. It is a well-balanced group of players. The players and our team staff are excited and ready to represent Canada with pride once again.”

What began as a 44-player selection camp roster was shortened by Jankowski, McFarland, Rumble, French, and members of the management group of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence following five days of on- and off-ice sessions, including three intrasquad games, at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

Wearing the newly-released Team Canada jersey, Canada will play in Group B with Russia, Slovakia, and Sweden; Group A consists of the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, and the United States. Canada will face the Czech Republic in a pre-tournament game on Aug. 6, and officially opens the tournament Aug. 8 against Slovakia. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on Friday, Aug. 12, with the gold-medal game scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13.