Flin Flonner and Bomber forward Joey Lies has headed off to Czechia to take on the world’s best ball hockey players. The 17-year-old is part of Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Ball Hockey Championships, playing in Liberec, Czechia in a weeklong tournament.
Team Canada opened the tournament with a 4-3 win over Team USA July 3. That was followed by a 3-2 loss to Slovakia July 4, then a 5-3 loss to Czechia later in the day. Team Canada finished the round-robin round with a commanding 12-2 win over Switzerland, finishing third in their pool.
That put Canada and Lies into the semifinal, losing their chance at a gold medal with a 4-2 loss to the Slovaks, setting up a match with the USA for a bronze medal July 6.
Lies is part of Canada’s national under-18 men’s team. Five different tournaments are taking place in Liberec this week - under-16, under-18, under-20 and under-23 men’s tournaments and an under-21 women’s draw.
A Flin Flon-born and raised player who just graduated from Hapnot Collegiate last week, Lies was named to the national team after being a part of last summer’s national ball hockey championship team, defeating teams from across Canada as part of a Manitoba select team.
Despite playing as a forward on the ice and with the Bombers, Lies plays defence in ball hockey. In 36 games with the Bombers last season as the team's youngest player and sole local representative, Lies had five goals and 13 points, adding two more assists in 12 playoff games.
Joining Lies are six other Manitoba-born players, more representatives than any other province. Lies and his six Manitoba compatriots - forwards Lukas Hansen, Tyler Parr and Reeve Sukut, defenders Ethan Alsip and Blake Goretzki and goalie Frankie Gagnon - were all part of the Manitoba Selects squad that won the Canadian national under-17 ball hockey title in Winnipeg in 2022.
The other Manitoba players are accomplished on the ice as well - Hansen and Parr both played last year for the WHL's Saskatoon Blades with Lies' older brother Justin, while Alsip suited up for the MJHL's Selkirk Steelers and was picked by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2020 WHL draft. Goretzki played under-18 hockey at Winnipeg's Rink Hockey Academy last year - the same program Lies played for before returning to the north - while Gagnon played for the Eastman Selects U18 AAA program in Beausejour.