Team Canada names Kirby Dach captain for world juniors

Team Canada captain Kirby Dach discusses how special it was to be named Team Canada captain and the feelings he had when it was announced by a special guest.

EDMONTON — Kirby Dach has been named captain of Canada’s team for the upcoming world junior hockey championship.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward heads a leadership group that also includes alternates Bowen Byram and Dylan Cozens, Hockey Canada announced Friday.

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid appeared on the jumbotron to announce who had been selected as captains for the tournament.

Dach, who was loaned to the national program for the under-20 tournament by his NHL club with the 2020-21 season still yet to begin, will make his world junior debut when the event gets going next week in Edmonton.

The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., native was expected to be part of the Canadian contingent that won gold in the Czech Republic last year, but he instead remained with the Blackhawks.

Dach had eight goals and 23 points in 64 games with Chicago in 2019-20 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a suspension of the schedule in March. The No. 3 pick at the 2019 NHL draft scored once and added five assists in nine contests during the league’s summer restart.

Byram and Cozens are among six returning players from Canada’s 2020 roster.

Cozens, who has been skating between Dach and Jack Quinn on the top line, had two goals and nine points in seven games at last year’s tournament, while Byram chipped in with two assists as part of the country’s defence corps.

A product of Cranbrook, B.C., Byram had 14 goals and 52 points in 50 games with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants in 2019-20 after being selected fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche.

Cozens, who’s from Whitehorse, registered 38 goals and 85 points in 51 games with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes last season. He was picked seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2019.

This year’s edition of the world juniors is set to open Dec. 25, with Canada scheduled to open on Boxing Day against Germany.

The tournament will be played in a bubble without fans at Edmonton’s Rogers Place in hopes of keeping the coronavirus out, but the International Ice Hockey Federation announced earlier Friday that eight players on the German team and two members of Sweden’s staff had tested positive.

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