Swetlikoff earns national invite

Vernon Vipers forward chosen for Team Canada for World U17 Championships in Dawson Creek

Vernon Vipers rookie forward Alex Swetlikoff will get a taste of international hockey.

Swetlikoff, 16, has been selected to play for Team Canada at the World U17 Championships in Dawson Creek starting Nov. 5.

He is one of 66 players to be chosen and one of just five players from the B.C. Hockey League.

“This is an incredible honour for Alex and what promises to be a great experience,” said Vipers head coach Mark Ferner. “He is very deserving of this and will represent the team and our league very well.”

Swetlikoff. who joins six Yale Academy Prep (Abbotsford) teammates on the Team, has committed to the University of Denver Pioneers for the 2018-19 season. He pocketed 19 goals and 45 points with Yale last year and credits a serious summer training regiment for helping his cause.

“I sacrificed a lot in the summer,” said Swetlikoff. “I was in the gym almost every day and I was skating every second day on the Westside with pros. That really helps because they push the pace and you have to go hard to keep up. At the camp, I feel I competed hard and skated hard. I had good endurance.”

The 66 players will be divided into three teams representing Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red, and Team Canada White when they compete against the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.

Swetlikoff, from Kelowna, has two goals and five points in 13 games with the Vipers.

Victoria Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook and Grizzlies d-man Jason Alexander, Penticton Vees F Massimo Rizzo and Vees D Luke Reid and Chilliwack Chiefs forward Harrison Blaisdell will also represent the BCHL.

The players chosen to compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge were selected by Brad McEwen, Hockey Canada’s head scout, in consultation with U17 POE management group lead Steve Staios, along with regional scouts Carl Bouchard (Quebec), Barclay Branch (Ontario), Barclay Parneta (West), Kevin Mitchell (Atlantic), and Darrell Woodley (Ontario).

The tournament opens Nov. 5 at the Encana Events Centre in an all-Canadian affair as last year’s silver medallist, Team Canada Black, takes on Team Canada White.

Meanwhile, the Vipers entertain the Surrey Eagles Saturday, 6 p.m. before facing the Smoke Eaters in a Sunday matinee in Trail. The Vipers share the Interior Division penthouse with the West Kelowna Warriors, one point ahead of the Smokies.

The Langley Rivermen upset the Vees 3-2 before 2,820 fans Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. It was the Vees’ first loss of the season. Chilliwack grounded the Merritt Centennials 4-2 in the other Wednesday game.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks shaded the Wenatchee Wild 3-2, while West Kelowna upended the Rivermen 5-2 in Tuesday action.