Nolan Bentham to represent Canada
On Wednesday, the Victoria Royals’ 16-year-old defenceman Nolan Bentham was named to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Team for the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Bentham was one of 15 players selected from the Western Hockey League.
“It’s really special. I definitely feel honored,” said Bentham. “I’m super excited to represent my country, and hopefully we can bring the gold medal home.”
The tournament takes place in Medicine Hat, AB, and Swift Current, SK, from November 2nd-9th. Canada will ice three teams – Canada Black, Canada Red, and Canada White — with the rosters for the three squads to be finalized later.
The selection of Bentham comes after he attended Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Development Camp this summer in Calgary, AB.
“When I got invited to that camp in the summer, one of my goals was to make it to one of these top three teams. So, when I got that phone call yesterday, I was just ecstatic.”
“We are really happy for Nolan,” said Royals head coach Dan Price. “He’s played an increased role and increased minutes because of some of the bodies that are absent. That’s really helped us.” Bentham has seen time at the forward position for the Royals, something his coach says has helped his game. “I think it has helped him to be able to get up the ice and handle the puck a little bit more. That’s helped him develop his confidence.”
With the tournament being held in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Victoria native may have to prepare for some winter conditions. When asked if he had a lot of winter clothes, Bentham laughed. “I got a little bit stuff. Not too much, because I’m from Victoria here and it’s warm here pretty much all the time. So I might have to go shopping.”
Injuries take their toll
Injuries have been a storyline for the Royals these last few years, and this season they have hit early. The weekly WHL injury report listed the following team injuries:
- #2 Jacob Herauf, D, lower body, day-to-day
- #16 Carson Miller, F, lower body, week-to-week
- #21 Alex Bolshakov, F, lower body, 1 week
- #23 Gary Haden, F, lower body, day-to-day
- #26 Graeme Bryks, F, upper body, day-to-day
- #27 Phillip Schultz, F, lower body, day-to-day
Bolshakov and Bryks were full participants in practice this week, so their return is close. The team saw Ty Yoder and Riley Gannon return from injury, as well as Carson Golder back from illness.
Victoria is hoping this early adversity is something they can get out of the way for the remainder of the season and grow from the challenge.
“You would much rather have it this way where you go through it early in the year,” said Price. “Some younger players get some good minutes where you learn some difficult lessons on how to control and close out games. Then you can build, get on a roll, and get some momentum throughout the course of the year.”
“We would rather have that than what we’ve experienced the last couple of years, where we got off to a hot start, then some attrition and injuries at the end which can cause a problem in the playoffs. So, if it is the inverse way this year, I’ll be happy.”
Up next, the Broncos
The next game for the Royals is this Friday, October 18th, at home versus the Swift Current Broncos. The 2018 WHL Champion Broncos are making a rare appearance to Victoria and although they have struggled since their championship season, Victoria is not taking them lightly.
“We watched them last night in Kamloops and we’ll see them again tonight in Kelowna,” added Price. “They are a very well-structured team and their system is very sound.
“The game last night was actually very close, even though Kamloops won 4-0. Swift Current played very well and had plenty of chances to score. We’ve got a good sense of what they’re going to bring, and it’ll be great challenge for us.”