Announced as of Monday morning, the Head Coach and General Manager of the Estevan Bruins has been picked up to help represent the country in hockey.
Chris Lewgood was named by the CJHL (Canadian Junior Hockey League) as Assistant Coach for Team Canada West in the upcoming World Jr. A Challenge, which will be held in Bonnyville, Alberta.
"It's exciting. I got the word back in September, I got a call from the Director of Operations, Kevin Saurette, who represents the CJHL and Hockey Canada, asking me if I'd be interested in doing it," he said, soon after the roster was announced, "It's a lot of fun. I think the process to this point has been a learning one and even though word just came out now, there's been a lot of work put in already for the team. I'm excited getting out there to Alberta, working with some high end Junior A coaches...from Western Canada is going to be a great experience for me and it's going to be a benefit for all of us here on the Estevan Bruins."
When he says 'a lot of work put in already', he isn't exaggerating. Regular meetings have been held between himself and the other coaches selected to the team, via conference call and in person, spending time on the X's and O's and team building ever since the staff was picked two and some months ago.
"We (recently) flew out to Edmonton and met with the guys. One day full of meetings, about 16 hours with some personnel from Hockey Canada, some retired coaches, things like that. We sat in a kind of war room, and went through the guys from Western Canada and basically nailed down the 44 players that will be attending identification camp in Calgary, starting next week."
When the Bruins return from their next road trip, Lewgood will part ways and head to Calgary, where Team Canada will commence scrimmages and prepare for the tournament. Meanwhile, Estevan's team will be left in the hands of it's own Assistant Coaches.
"We've been prepping for it. I've handed a lot of responsibilities off to Jeff Smith, he's been named our Associate Head Coach this year and he's sort of been practicing for it. I think the guys are fully comfortable with he and Millsy (Aren Miller), and Cole Zahn ready to step behind the bench if need be as well. The guys will be more than comfortable, but at the same time it is a challenge mentally to be leaving the team behind. We haven't had the success we'd like, it was sort of unforeseeable at the start of the year but given the circumstances it makes it a little hard to leave for a couple weeks. But, I know the guys are in good hands and I think everybody in the group here is excited about it."
The pre-tournament schedule gets underway December 7th with Team Canada West taking on Russia, and the tournament itself runs from December 9th to the 16th.