Monday, March 21, 2011

Williamson-Lamb-Hawerchuk to Lead Canada's U18 team

TPS has learned that Calgary Hitmen bench boss Mike Williamson will be named Canada's Head Coach for the upcoming Under 18 World Championship. Joining him will be a former Oiler and Winnipeg Jet in current Swift Current and Barrie Colt Head Coaches Mark Lamb and Dale Hawerchuk. An announcement will be made on Wednesday.

Williamson's is a name that Guy brought up a month ago on TPS. His Hitmen finished last in the WHL after winning the league title last year and coming within an overtime goal of reaching the Memorial Cup final in Brandon. It was the second straight year that the former Portland Winterhawks head man had the Hitmen in the WHL final. While his team missed the post season by 22 points, it's the first time since their first 2 years in the league (95-97) that they won't be roaming the WHL playoffs.

Lamb's Swift Current Broncos finished one spot and 9 points ahead of the Hitmen, but were in the playoff race until they decided to reload for the future by dealing Cody Eakin. Unlike Brandon who made the post season after dealing it's blue chip asset, Swift won just 8 times in their final 37 games after Eakin left for the World Juniors, and then was traded on January 9th. This is Lamb's second season in Speedy Creek, and he led them to a 3rd place finish in the East Division last year.

Hawerchuk is the rookie on the coaching staff as he's in his first year with Barrie. The Colts, like the Hitmen are in rebuild mode after finishing first in the OHL last year and making a run to the league final. Under Marty Williamson Barrie went 12-1 in the playoffs before Windsor dusted them off in a finals sweep. This year they didn't get Alex Burmistrov back from the Atlanta Thrashers and that severely hampered what 'Ducky' could do with the Colts. They will have the luxury of picking first overall this year though after a last place finish.

Canada opens the U18 World Championship against the Czech Republic on April 14th in Germany. Williamson-Lamb-Hawerchuk will be looking to get redemption for Hockey Canada after a disappointing 7th place finish last year. Just who will fill out their roster won't be known for a week or 2 as head scout Kevin Prendergast and the coaching staff start poaching players who lose out in the first round, along with those that didn't make it in.

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