Tanner Molendyk, who hails from McBride, BC will compete on the National Junior Team this month at the World Juniors IIHF Tournament

By Andrea Arnold

On the afternoon of Dec 13th, Hockey Canada announced the roster for the National Junior Team headed for the 2024 World Junior Tournament. On that list is McBride’s favourite defensemen, Tanner Molendyk. Molendyk and his teammates will fight to bring home Canada’s third gold in as many years. 

After the camp, representatives came to Molendyk’s door to tell him he had made the team.

“They knocked on my door, and they were standing there with a hoodie,” he said. “They said ‘congratulations Moley.’ It was a really special moment.”

Molendyk and 29 other team hopefuls began a four-day camp in Oakville Ont on Sunday,  

before the 22 names of the successful players were announced on Dec 13th. The team consists of only one returning player, Owen Beck, who helped Canada win a 20th World Juniors gold last year in Halifax.

Being given yet another opportunity to play at another level, and to internationally represent Canada, Molendyk counts himself fortunate. 

“I am really honoured,” he said. “Not everyone gets to play for the team they have dreamed about playing for. I am taking it step-by-step and trying to get the most out of every day while getting this opportunity to represent Canada.”

Molendyk’s parents are thrilled to see their son reach another milestone in his career.

“I felt excited and proud (following the announcement),” said his dad, Jamie. “I used to watch (world juniors) with him on my lap when he was young and now to be able to watch him wear the jersey makes me super proud. I love that he is following his dreams and making them come true.”

Molendyk went into the four-day camp with a lower body injury he had sustained during a game against the Red Deer Rebels the week before. He was able to dress in Canada’s final exhibition game against a team of U Sports all-stars. 

“I’m glad Tanner had such an amazing team within Hockey Canada to work on his injury so he could play the final game which allowed him the opportunity to show them what he is made of,” said his mom, Nicole. “Rather than get down and think his chance was over, he just kept pushing and doing everything he could to get on that ice. That is why he will always succeed in whatever he does. That is what makes me proud. And now he gets to wear the Team Canada jersey with pride, which is beyond awesome.”

Both Jamie and Nicole, along with Tanner’s sister Paige and grandma Kathy will be in the stands in Gothenburg Sweden to cheer him on.

So far this season with the Saskatoon Blades (WHL) Molendyk has scored four goals and assisted 24, bringing his statistics to 28 points scored in 24 games. This is his fourth year with the Blades. This past June, Molendyk was drafted 24th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.

Almost immediately following the close of World Juniors camp, the newly-formed team boarded a plane set for Sweden where they will practice and play in several games as they bond as a team before the start of the big tournament.

Prior to the tournament, Team Canada will play against a U25 team from Denmark on Dec 19, and then world junior squads from Switzerland on Dec 22, and the US on Dec 23.

Team Canada will open the 2024 IIHF World Juniors in Sweden against Team Finland at 5:30am Pacific Time Boxing Day. The following games are on December 27, 10:30am pacific time against Latvia, December 29 10:30am against host country Sweden, and December 31 against Germany at 10:30am. Following these games, play time will be determined on standings with the final game being held on January 5th, 2024.