Canada’s best under-18 hockey players are about to put on the maple leaf at a world championship in Texas - and a pair of former Bomber goalies will help the team.
The IIHF U18 World Championship begins April 26, with10 teams heading to Frisco and Plano, Texas to determine the world’s best team in the age group.
Out of the team’s 13-member coaching staff, two Bombers will take active roles. Former Bomber goalie Travis Crickard will be the team’s video coach. Originally from St. John’s, Nfld., Crickard joined the Bombers for the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons. Crickard was part of the 2005/06 team that ended the Bombers’ four-season post-Royal Bank Cup finalist playoff drought.
After leaving Flin Flon, Crickard earned an NCAA Division III scholarship to State University of New York (SUNY)-Potsdam before turning to coaching. Since 2013, Crickard has had stints as a goalie coach and an assistant coach with both the OHL’s Ottawa 67s and the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Crickard has also worked with Hockey Canada’s under-17 program as an assistant coach and video coach at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Most recently, Crickard has been named the head coach for the Waterloo Wolves AAA under-18 team in Ontario.
The team’s goaltending coach is Matt Weninger, who played in Flin Flon for two seasons as the team’s main starter. Joining the Bombers in 2008 after a stint in Kindersley, the Lethbridge, Alta. native played 73 regular season games as a Bomber before playing four NCAA Division I seasons with St. Lawrence University.
After stepping away from high-level hockey in 2014, Weninger became a goaltending coach, first for the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, then for the Univ. of Lethbridge Pronghorns USports program, based in his hometown. For the past three seasons, Weninger has been the goaltending coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
This season’s under-18 Team Canada is stacked with blue-chip prospects, including 15-year-old WHL scoring sensation Connor Bedard, OHL phenom Shane Wright and likely top draft picks Brandt Clarke, Dylan Guenther and Carson Lambos.