Cloverdale’s Caedan Bankier has made the cut to play for Canada at the “World Juniors” this winter.
The left-shot forward, 19, was named to Hockey Canada’s 22-player roster on Monday (Dec. 12), two weeks ahead of the popular annual tournament, officially known as the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, which starts on Boxing Day in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Last week, Bankier was among four B.C. players invited to Team Canada’s selection camp in Moncton, and he played well enough to make the final roster, joined by Kamloops Blazers teammate Logan Stankoven.
Other B.C.-raised players to make the cut include North Vancouver’s Connor Bedard and Coquitlam-raised goaltender Thomas Milic. Also named to the roster was Vancouver Giants forward Zack Ostapchuk, who won gold with Team Canada in Edmonton in 2022, along with Bedard and Stankoven.
Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Bankier was “pretty pumped” about making the team for TSN’s high-profile tournament, and his phone buzzed with messages of congratulations from friends, family and teammates.
During the selection camp, he scored a goal in the first game and added two assists in the second.
“I was pretty motivated,” Bankier said, “because I really wanted to be part of this team, just tried the best I could, and whatever happened I was going to be proud of myself.”
In the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the White Rock-born Bankier was picked in the third round, 86th overall, by the Minnesota Wild. He played minor hockey in Cloverdale and at Burnaby Winter Club before making the leap to the Western Hockey League (WHL). At the 2019 Canada Winter Games, he scored seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in seven games.
The World Juniors is a tournament Bankier and his family watched every winter.
“Obviously we tuned in a bit more during Canada’s games, but we tried to watch every game we could and tried to memorize all the players names and know exactly what was going on,” said Bankier, whose name will now be the one memorized by hockey fans.
“It’s pretty crazy, it hasn’t quite settled in yet, but maybe it will when I put on that jersey for the tournament for the first time, when I’m out on the ice,” he added.
Bankier was told about making the team with a knock on his hotel room door by an assistant coach.
“There were a bunch of cameras around, too, and I was a bit nervous about all the cameras, but it was a moment I’ll never forget,” he said.
Now Bankier and the others on the Dennis Williams-coached Team Canada will practice to prepare for the tournament, with exhibition games against Switzerland on Dec. 19, Slovakia on Dec. 21 and Finland on Dec. 23.
The U20 tourney begins for real on Boxing Day with four games, including Canada taking on Czechia at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.