The Western Hockey League has announced the roster for the upcoming Canada-Russia Series and it features two NHL prospects from Kamloops.
Hometown products Joe Hicketts of the Victoria Royals and Ryan Gropp of the Seattle Thunderbirds will take to the ice when Kamloops hosts the second game of the exhibition series on Tuesday, November 10th.
Hicketts is in his fourth WHL season, and second as the Royals’ captain. He was a member of gold medal winning Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old signed a contract as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in September 2014 after being passed over in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Hicketts has 10 assists in 10 games this season, and is the Royals’ franchise leader in assists by a defenceman.
Gropp is in his third season with the Thunderbirds. He was selected in the second round, 41st overall, by the New York Rangers in June. The 19-year-old has two goals and two assists in four games this season.
Hicketts and Gropp were minor hockey teammates, both selected in the first round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft by their respective teams.
Blazers’ head coach Don Hay will serve as an assistant coach for Team WHL and athletic trainer Colin “Toledo” Robinson will also join the team for both games.
The series will open in Kelowna on November 9th before coming to Kamloops for the second game featuring WHL stars against Team Russia. The Russian team will then travel to play two games against players from the Ontario Hockey League and two games against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.