The 2017 World Junior A Challenge beginning Sunday in Turo, Nova Scotia will feature three future University of Denver Pioneers. Cole Guttman, who flipped his commitment to Denver from St. Cloud State last month, will represent the United States, while Brendan Budy and Brett Stapley will compete for Canada West.
Colorado Avalanche fans may remember the WJAC as the tournament where Tyson Jost took Canada West to gold with his MVP performance in 2015. Canada West comprises players from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Superior Junior Hockey Leagues. Other Canadian Junior A leagues — Northern Ontario, Ontario, Central, Quebec, Maritime — sent player to Canada East.
The American team, defending their gold medal from the 2016 challenge, is made of up players from the USHL. The 2017 tournament field will be rounded out by Switzerland, Russia and the Czech Republic.
All three DU commits could be members of the Pioneers’ 2018 freshman class. Guttman, a Los Angeles native and draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has 11 points in the first 17 games of his second season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Budy committed to Denver in February 2016, while in his first season with the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL. Budy has averaged nearly a point per game (78 points, 86 games) with Langley.
Stapley is in his third year with the Vernon Vipers, also of the BCHL. He confirmed his commitment to DU this February at the tail end of a stellar 50-point regular season (16 G, 34 A). Stapley will serve as the assistant captain for Canada West.
Stapley and Budy were held without a point in Canada West’s tournament opener, a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic. The United States will open play with the Czechs tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 PM MT. A full tournament schedule can be found here.