HOCKEY: Team Canada time for Surrey’s Popowich and Burzan

Surrey players named to 'Team Black' for action at 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

Vancouver Giants forward Tyler Popowich

SURREY — For a week starting on Oct. 27, Tyler Popowich will trade his Vancouver Giants jersey for one with a maple leaf for a crest.

The Surrey-raised player, 16, has been chosen to represent Canada at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault St. Marie, Ont.

The 66 Canadian players at the tournament – including Luka Burzan, another Surrey-raised shooter – are divided into three teams, wearing Black, Red and White colours.

On Tuesday (Oct. 18), Burzan and Popowich were among 13 forwards assigned to Team Black.

The Canadian squads will battle the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and United States in their quest for gold.

A seven-day Hockey Canada development camp in July involved 111 players.

“I felt I had a pretty good camp, and it felt pretty good getting that phone call from Ryan Jankowski (Hockey Canada’s director of player development),” Popowich told the Now.

“I know it’s going to be a long tournament and we need to start off quick, and hopefully get a couple of wins and just perform,” he added.

“Playing for Canada like this, it’s a first for me, it’s special, amazing, and it’ll be an honour and a great experience, I think.”

(PICTURED: Surrey’s Luka Burzan, 16, now with the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors.)

Last year, Popowich won a bronze medal with Team B.C. at the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup, after he was chosen third overall by the Giants in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.

With the Giants this season, the six-foot-four rookie centre has yet to register a point in eight games played.

The team plays Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday (Oct. 19) at Langley Events Centre. CLICK HERE for game details.

On the road last week, the Giants won four games in a row over Alberta teams that play in the WHL’s Central Division.

Popowich will eventually get more playing time with the Giants, when the time is right.

“It’s not expected of a 16-year-old to play a ton of minutes in this league, but I’m getting a fair amount, mostly with Taden Rattie and (fellow rookie) Tristyn DeRoose, but the lines get switched around a lot, too,” he said in a phone interview as the Giants boarded a bus for Lethbridge last Friday morning (Oct. 14).

On the road trip, the team beat Calgary by a score of 5-3, Edmonton 2-0, Lethbridge 4-3 and Medicine Hat 2-1.

Giants GM Glen Hanlon said the franchise is happy Popowich will get an opportunity to play for Hockey Canada.

“All of these international experiences make you a better player, and we know that this will help his development,” Hanlon stated.

Most of the players selected for the tournament will represent Canada for the first time, as part of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, according to Shawn Bullock, senior manager of hockey operations.

“They have been selected not only based on their current ability, but also on their potential to represent Canada at under-18 and junior competition in the coming years,” Bullock stated.

Surrey’s Burzan is among 15 Under-17 Canadians who earned a taste of international competition last February when they won a silver medal at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. CLICK HERE to read about it.

Burzan, formerly of the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget League, now skates as a rookie with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. This season, in 10 games played as of Monday, he has scored three goals and added three assists.

Popowich grew up in the Panorama area of Surrey while playing for teams at Burnaby Winter Club.

“It was pretty special to be drafted by the team I grew up watching, kind of surreal,” he said of being selected by the Giants in the bantam draft. “With BWC, we used to go to a lot of the Giants games to sell 50/50 tickets, once or twice a year, around the rink at the Coliseum. It was fun.”

So far, despite a pretty lousy record for the team on home ice, he likes playing for the Giants at Langley Events Centre, the team’s new home.

“There’s a good atmosphere in there for sure,” Popowich said. “It’s a little more loud than the (Pacific Coliseum, the team’s former home rink), and I guess that comes with a smaller building, but it’s nice and new in there, really good.”

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

Just Posted

Why school portables are a ‘way of life’ in Surrey

THIRD IN A SERIES: A look at concerns surrounding Surrey’s 300-plus portables

Grieving mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Stay home, cats – only pet dogs are OK to attend ‘Cat Walk’ at Surrey park

Surrey Community Cat Coalition’s second annual fundraiser planned Saturday

Surrey high school teacher receives Loran award

First ever to be given to Surrey teacher, district says

ZYTARUK: Canal isn’t Surrey’s first ‘different’ idea

Anyone up for waterskiing in Doug’s Ditch?

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Metro Vancouver’s air quality could be the worst yet this wildfire season

As wildfire season approached, Metro Vancouver experts predict the air will be an issue for many

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Update: Multiple fires along the railway tracks in Pitt Meadows

CP rail has closed tracks while firefighters work

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Most Read