Schneider invited to World Under 18 camp

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Braden Schneider reacts to a play during a game against the Prince Albert Raiders.

After a disappointing ending to the season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince Albert’s Braden Schneider has a chance to finish out the 2018-19 campaign by representing his country once again.

The 17-year-old blueliner found out on Friday that he had been invited to Canada’s training camp in Finland next week for the 2018 IIHF World Under 18 Championship, which will take place in Ornskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden from April 18-28.

“It’s going to be fun to have a chance to play a little more hockey here after a bit of rest,” Schneider said.

“There will be some familiar faces from this season and from this past summer there, and hopefully I’ll be fortunate enough to have a chance to win another medal.”

Schneider is one of eight players on the training camp roster who won a gold medal back in August for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament in Edmonton.

“I had a lot of confidence coming back from that tournament when the season got started for us in Brandon,” Schneider said.

“I was lucky to get quite a bit of time playing against the top guys already in my rookie season, but to have that experience of playing in a big event really helped me to get off to a good start this season.”

Schneider had eight goals and 16 assists in 58 games during his sophomore campaign in the Western Hockey League, with his 24 points being the second most among Wheat Kings blueliners.

“I found more of an offensive touch this year, but I think that also came with that extra bit of confidence that I had after playing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup,” Schneider said.

“I was able to jump into the play a little bit more and I felt like I had an idea of when to get involved on offence, along with knowing how to go up against the other team’s top guys.”

The only drawback to the season was the fact that the Wheat Kings missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013, as they were just two points back of the Red Deer Rebels for the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“When you play for a team like the Wheat Kings that are known to be in the playoffs on a yearly basis, it’s really tough when you aren’t a part of it,” Schneider said.

“We had some big guys go down with injuries and we had a fairly young lineup after the trade deadline, but I thought we played well at the end of the year as those younger guys got used to playing in bigger roles. There’s a lot of fire in our bellies as we get ready for next season.”

The 2019-20 campaign will also see a new provincial foe for the Wheat Kings, as the Kootenay Ice will be moving from Cranbrook, B.C. to Winnipeg.

“It’s an automatic rivalry and we haven’t even played a game against each other yet,” Schneider said. “I can’t wait to see how everything turns out when we play them.”