Chilliwack leader AJ Lacroix to skate in Hlinka Gretzky Cup

A chef from Chilliwack will represent the United States at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a showcase tournament for the best talent in U18 ice hockey.

AJ Lacroix, who has dual Canadian-American citizenship, will travel to Red Deer, Alta., for the eight-team event which runs July 31-August 6.

The 17-year-old’s squad will play in Group B, which includes Czechia, Finland and Germany. Their opening match will take place on July 31 against Germany. The other side of the tournament (group A) includes Canada, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.

The United States last won this tournament in 2003, the only time the United States won first place.

Lacroix had 40 points last season as a 16-year-old rookie for the Chiefs, good enough for the team’s fifth-pointer. His 21 goals were the team’s third most.

There’s a chance he’ll face a BCHL rival if the United States meets Canada in the semis or finals. Matthew Wood, star of the Victoria Grizzlies, joins the Canadian roster after leading the entire BCHL in points last season with 85 points in 46 games.

The University of Connecticut commitment was an easy pick as the league’s Rookie of the Year and was a finalist for Most Valuable Player. Wood appeared at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship last April, tallying two goals in four games.

Canada is a heavy favorite at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, having won gold 22 times in 30 years.

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