The next big junior hockey event across the world is the World U18 Hockey Championship, with a few links to Manitoba on Team Canada. Roger McQueen and Charlie Elick are both on the Brandon Wheat Kings, and assistant coach Ryan Smith is from Headingley.

Smith just finished his second season as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs with a record of 30-32-5-1. His squad made the post-season but was swept by the Prince George Cougars.

Smith now turns his focus to the tournament in Finland, where he will join Gardiner MacDougall's staff as an assistant. Smith says the path that brought him to coaching has taken him many places.

"I played overseas as a living for 11 years, and that was, for me, I don't know if it gets better. Then, coming home and coaching in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for a number of years really taught me a lot. It got me into coaching, how to deal with players and relationships. I owe a lot to the MJHL. I don't forget where I come from and I still have a lot of good friends that are working in the MJHL, whether they're coaches, managers, you know, scouts. So, the MJHL is a big reason why I am where I am."

This is Smith's third tournament where he's represented Canada over the last two seasons, and he says there is only one goal in mind for this team.

"The group we have here is a pretty special group and for us, we're trying to win a gold medal. That's our only objective, is to come home with gold and the prep we're putting in right now hopefully will pay off as we get into the tournament phase."

Smith adds that he feels that this group has a good chance to do just that.

"The CHL, I go to bat for it every time. It's the top junior league in the in the world. The players in the WHL that are representing us here are great players, but also the Ontario League and the Quebec Maritime League. You don't get to see these guys; you have no idea. They're just names until you get here and then to see the things that they can do on the ice, it's pretty impressive. Some of them I've worked with before at U-17 last year in Langley, so I do have some familiarity with some of them, but it's an impressive group. You know, coaching at this level with club teams is a privilege but to be here, I mean it's, I don't know how to explain it. It's quite special."

The tournament begins on April 25, when Canada will face off with Sweden to open the Round Robin, a rematch of last year's semi-final matchup that saw Canada lose 7-2 en route to a bronze medal.