CALGARY, Alta. – With less than two months until the puck drops on the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, Hockey Canada has named the staff that will lead Canada’s National Junior Team in its gold medal defence in Halifax, N.S., and Moncton, N.B.
After helping Canada to a gold medal at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach, Dennis Williams (Stratford, Ont./Everett, WHL) returns to take the reins as head coach. He will be joined by assistant coaches Stéphane Julien (Shawinigan, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL), Brent Kisio (Calgary, Alta./Lethbridge, WHL) and Alan Letang (Renfrew, Ont./Sarnia, OHL), as well as goaltending consultant Kelly Guard (Prince Albert, Sask./Prince Albert, WHL) and video coach James Emery (Calgary, Alta.).
The coaching staff was selected by Alan Millar (Tottenham, Ont.), director of player personnel, James Boyd (Midland, Ont./Ottawa, OHL), who returns as the U20 lead for the Program of Excellence management group after helping assemble the team that won gold at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, and Scott Salmond (Creston, B.C.), senior vice-president of hockey operations.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Dennis and James Boyd following a gold medal at the 2022 World Juniors to help bring momentum and consistency from our success in the summer,” said Millar. “We are also excited to welcome Stéphane, Brent, Alan, Kelly and James Emery, as each coach brings a wealth of experience and success from the Canadian Hockey League and international levels. We believe we have assembled a world-class coaching staff that will play a large part in defending our gold medal on the East Coast starting next month.”
Williams is in his sixth season as head coach of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL), adding the general manager title to his responsibilities in July 2021. He has led the Silvertips to four U.S. Division titles, three Western Conference regular season titles and a Western Conference playoff championship. He has been named WHL Western Conference Coach of the Year twice (2017-18, 2019-20) and U.S. Division Coach of the Year once (2021-22). In addition to his gold medal at the 2022 World Juniors, Williams won a silver medal as an assistant with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He also served as head coach of Team Canada Black at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Julien most recently led Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team as head coach, winning a gold medal at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He is currently in his third season as head coach and general manager of the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Julien was previously the head coach for parts of five seasons (2016-20) before adding the general manager title, and served as an assistant coach for four seasons (2012-15). He was also an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship and head coach of Team Canada Black at the 2021 Capital City Challenge.
Kisio is in his eighth season as head coach of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. Prior to joining the Hurricanes, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach (2007-15) and assistant general manager (2014-15) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, helping lead the team to a WHL championship in 2010. Internationally, he served as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, won a gold medal as head coach at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, won a silver medal as an assistant with Team Pacific at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and served as head coach of Team Canada White at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Letang was an assistant coach on Julien’s staff with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team that won gold at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup this summer. He is in his second season as head coach of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and previously spent five seasons with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack as an assistant coach (2016-19) and head coach (2019-20). Letang also won a gold medal as an assistant coach with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The support staff that will work with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship includes:
- Athletic therapists Kevin Elliott (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) and Andy Brown (Owen Sound, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL)
- Team physician Dr. R.J. Mackenzie (Albert Bridge, N.S./Cape Breton, QMJHL)
- Equipment managers Gord Cochran (Williams Lake, B.C./Regina, WHL) and Chris Cook (Ottawa, Ont./Hamilton, OHL)
- Strength and conditioning coach Sean Young (Ennismore, Ont./Ottawa, OHL)
- Mental performance consultant Luke Madill (Kirkland, Que.)
- Manager of hockey operations Benoit Roy (Sudbury, Ont.)
- Senior coordinator of hockey operations Natalie Gerstmar (Calgary, Alta.)
- Coordinator of hockey operations Kurt Keats (Winnipeg, Man.)
- Security liaison Bob Martin (London, Ont./London, OHL)
- Media relations manager Spencer Sharkey (Hamilton, Ont.)
“The coaching and support staff for Canada’s National Junior Team is a well-rounded, experienced group that have been integral to the recent success of Hockey Canada’s national teams,” said Salmond. “We know these individuals will play a major role in the success of our team at the World Juniors, and we look forward to the opportunity to once again compete for a gold medal on home ice in Halifax and Moncton.”
Canada’s National Junior Team will gather at the Avenir Centre in Moncton for a four-day selection camp, Dec. 9-12, before selecting a final roster ahead of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. The selection camp roster will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.