Playing for Team West at the World Under-17 Challenge in Quebec last December was one of the biggest thrills of Rourke Chartier’s young hockey career.
The Kelowna Rockets centre and Saskatoon native is about to top that experience over the next 10 days as a member of the Canada’s national under-18 team.
Chartier was named to the 22-man national squad this week for the Memorial for Ivan Hlinka Tournament, Aug. 5 to 10 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“It’s a huge honour to represent your country,” Chartier said Tuesday from Calgary, site of the Team Canada selection camp. “I was excited to get the invite to camp first of all, but now to be named to the team is even bigger. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Just like his current Rockets teammate Madison Bowey did one year ago, Chartier would like nothing more than to bring some hardware home from the prestigious international championship.
Canada has won gold at the tournament in each of the last five years.
“Canada is expected to do well at any tournament, but winning five years in a row raises the expectations even more,” said Chartier. “There’s pressure, but it’s good pressure. I think the guys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Chartier, 17, was the Rockets first round choice, 15th overall in the 2011 WHL bantam draft.
The WHL Western Conference nominee for Scholastic player of the year in 2012-13, Chartier scored 13 goals and had 30 points in his rookie season with Kelowna.
Canada opens the Memorial for Ivan Hlinka Tournament with an exhibition game Saturday, Aug. 3 against Slovakia.
The Canadians open the preliminary round Aug. 5 vs. the Czechs.