Justin Lies’ ascent up Manitoba’s minor hockey ranks will continue at this year’s Canada Winter Games.
Lies was named to Team Manitoba on Dec. 19. The team, which consists of the province’s best hockey players under the age of 16, will compete at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. from Feb. 15 to Mar. 3. The games will include 150 events in 19 sports with more than 3,600 athletes, coaches and managers participating.
The Canada Winter Games have served as a springboard for top talent from across the country. Stars like Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Steven Stamkos have played for their provincial teams.
Five players from the last Team Manitoba, assembled for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, were drafted by National Hockey League teams.
This season, the 15-year-old Lies has been playing with the Rink Hockey Academy Nationals prep school program out of Winnipeg, suiting up in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) Elite 15s division. In 25 games with the club, Lies has tallied 22 points, including nine goals.
Last season, Lies played with the bantam AAA Norman Wolves, leading the team in goal scoring with 39 goals in 35 games, netting 62 total points.
Lies was picked in the third round of the WHL Bantam Draft this summer by the Vancouver Giants.
Lies is the only northern player on the club’s 20-man roster, but he will have some familiar faces around him. Several of his new teammates – defenders Cole Assaily and Tayem Gislason and forwards Eric Alarie, Skyler Bruce, Grady Lane and Colby Wotton – played with Lies on Team North during last year’s Manitoba Winter Games in Thompson. While each of those players are from southern Manitoba, the six Team North alumni all have family ties to the north.