Saskatoon Blades blueliner Dalton Thrower will again be representing the West Coast after being selected to compete in the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont. from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4.
Team Pacific chose the 16-year-old to be one of seven young defensemen from British Columbia and Alberta guarding the back end against national teams from the United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and squads representing Ontario, Quebec, West and Atlantic Canada.
"It's a great accomplishment," said Thrower from his family's North Vancouver home. "It's something I've been working for ever since I was young and finally everything is starting to pay off one step at a time."
Thrower's family moved from Squamish to North Vancouver about three years ago. In 2008, he was drafted by the Western Hockey League's (WHL) Saskatoon Blades 30th overall in the bantam draft. At the time, the Blades were in the process of rebuilding and coming off a losing season. Now the Blades lead the East Division and are ranked third in goals allowed.
Thrower is getting regular ice time after battling through an early season knee injury. He and fellow 16-year-old teammate Duncan Siemens make up the youngest defensive pairing in the league. Siemens was also chosen to play for Team Pacific so they may just carry their success together into the international arena.
Thrower may be young, but at 6 feet and 183-pounds, the defenseman is holding his own against WHL veterans. Of course, some of his competitors are going to be representing their countries at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Regina and Saskatoon while he's playing in Ontario over the holidays.
It was a challenge to start the season with a nagging injury, but he has since found his rhythm and is improving his defensive skills, he said.
"You've always got to be ready because these guys are so fast. You never know what's going to happen so you've always got to be ready to go and keep you head on a swivel."
Thrower has international experience. Last year, he joined the Team BC's under-16 squad in Japan to compete in the Memorial Cup, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Nagano Olympics. But Thrower said he is ready for even stiffer competition in Timmins.
"It's going to be tough but I think it's going to be a great experience, for sure."