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Letang looks ahead to 'extra special' World Juniors next month

Tara Jeffrey The upcoming World Juniors will be extra special for Alan Letang.
Alan Letang. (Metcalfe Photography)
Alan Letang. (Metcalfe Photography)

Tara Jeffrey

The upcoming World Juniors will be extra special for Alan Letang.

“This year, being in Canada, is going to be a whole new experience,” said the Sarnia Sting head coach, recently named to Team Canada’s bench staff for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship to be held in Atlantic Canada beginning next month.

“That excitement, that energy that’s out in Halifax — it’s going to be fun to be a part of.”

Letang was part of Team Canada’s 2020 gold-medal-winning crew, as an advance scout at the tournament held in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

“My family is going to get to actually share in this one,” he said. “They’re going to come out and watch a few games — so it’ll be a little bit extra special to have them a part of it.”

When he got the call from Hockey Canada inviting him on board as an assistant coach, Letting admits it was a surprise.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be in the mix for that opportunity, just because I’d already done something with Hockey Canada,” said Letang, who was assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team that won gold at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup this summer.

“I actually thought they were calling about Benny (Sting goalie Ben Gaudreau) because he’s in the mix for potential roster spot.

“So I was pretty shocked.”

Alan Letang (far left) joins Canada's Junior National Team coaches Brent Kisio, Dennis Williams, Stéphane Julien and Kelly Guard. (Hockey Canada)

Letang said planning and meetings are well underway with Team Canada’s coaching staff, which includes head coach Dennis Williams (WHL) — who helped lead the gold-medal-winning 2022 team — and assistant coaches Stephane Julien (QMJHL) and Brent Kisio (WHL).

“The coaching and support staff for Canada’s National Junior Team is a well-rounded, experienced group that have been integral to the recent success of Hockey Canada’s national teams,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of hockey operations. “We know these individuals will play a major role in the success of our team at the World Juniors, and we look forward to the opportunity to once again compete for a gold medal on home ice in Halifax and Moncton.”

Canada’s National Junior Team will gather at the Avenir Centre in Moncton for a four-day selection camp, Dec. 9-12, before selecting a final roster ahead of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship held in in Halifax, N.S., and Moncton, N.B.

The selection camp roster will be announced in the coming weeks.

Letang said he’s grateful for the support from the Sting organization.

“I’m gone for almost a month,” he said, noting he’ll miss about seven games with the Sting. "I know the team is in great hands with Brad (Staubitz) and Mike (Haley) for sure; they’ll be totally fine with everything.

“But it is a commitment from both sides — not only a commitment from me but from the organization to allow me to go and be a part of it.

“Any time you get an opportunity to be a part of Hockey Canada,” he added, “I take pride in it.”