Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

There will be bloodlines

Lots of NHL names suiting up in tourney

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IF it's bloodlines you're looking for, there are lots of reasons to connect with the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that begins next week in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie.

Ten teams, including five from the various regions of Canada, will compete in a two-pool, single round-robin event at the new MTS Iceplex and Portage's PCU Centre.

The tournament wraps up with gold- and bronze-medal games at the MTS Centre Jan. 4.

Matteau and Samuelsson are recognizable NHL names. The sons of Stephane Matteau and Ulf Samuelsson will be found on the defending champion Team U.S.A. roster at the tournament.

Stefan Matteau, 16, is a forward from Chicago, while Henrik Samuelsson, the 16-year-old son of Swedish-born Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Ulf, is from Scottsdale, Ariz.

The U.S. team isn't restricted to hockey genes, either.

Defenceman Seth Jones from Plano, Texas is the son of former NBA regular Popeye Jones.

The home side at the tournament, Team West, has connections to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Logan McVeigh of Kenaston, Sask., is the cousin of NHL ironman Ron Francis, a 2007 HHoF inductee.

Team West also features Chandler Stephenson of Saskatoon, the nephew of former NHL tough guy Joey Kocur.

From Team Pacific, fans will likely pick out Griffin Reinhart, son of former NHL defenceman Paul Reinhart.

Griffin's brother Max is a Calgary draft pick and a member of the 2010 national Under-18 team.

Team Ontario has several pro connections, and even a direct link to the Canadian squad that's competing at the world junior in Buffalo.

Defenceman Alex Gudbranson, 16, is the younger brother of Erik Gudbranson, also a defenceman and member of Team Canada.

Defenceman Adam Pelech is the brother of Matt Pelech, the Calgary Flames' first-round draft pick of 2006 and member of the AHL's Abbotsford Heat.

He's also the nephew of Vancouver Canucks' GM Mike Gillis.

Ontario also has forward Brandon Guance, the brother of Colorado draft pick and blue-chip prospect Cameron Guance.

Kerby Rychel is the son of former NHL tough guy Warren Rychel, the current GM of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires.

On Team Atlantic, forward Brett Malone of Miramichi, N.B., comes from a family that has its own depth chart. Brett's father Jim was a New York Rangers draft pick in 1980, his brother Brad was Colorado's first-round draft pick in 2007, his uncle Greg played 704 games for the Penguins, Hartford and Quebec and his cousin Ryan currently plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While there are plenty of family ties to be found on the ice, the NHL family will have a few behind under-17 benches in the coming week.

Former NHL defenceman Robert Dirk, a Regina native, is the head coach of Team Pacific.

Running the show for the Americans is former Winnipeg Jets forward Danton Cole, who has also previously coached the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2010 C4

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