TEAM OF THE WEEK: NEXXICE JUNIORS
In early March, the NEXXICE junior team will try to repeat what their senior team accomplished two years ago: win a world championship on Canadian ice.
The juniors won the tensionpacked World Junior qualifier for Canadian teams at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre on Jan. 10-11, and will enter the worlds March 10 and 11 — also at the Hershey Centre — as Canada 1. Canada 2 will be runnersup, Montreal Les Supremes, who won the 2016 World Junior Challenge, which is held instead of the world championship in even-numbered years.
NEXXICE has never won the worlds, but finished second in 2009 and ’10.
“I’m thrilled with the way they performed,” Trish-Perdue-Mills who has coached NEXXICE juniors since the team’s inception 11 years ago, said of winning the qualifier. “It’s a pressure-filled event and they handled it beautifully.”
The team practises three times a week, at three different locations (Burlington Ice Centre, Dave Andreychuk Arena and Stoney Creek’s Gateway Ice Centre) and has added a fourth practice at Hershey Centre leading into the worlds.
The bulk of the team comes from Burlington and Hamilton, but there are members from the London area, Kitchener and Toronto.
Perdue-Mills says that in March the toughest competition should come from Finland, “which is always super strong, the U.S., which is getting stronger, and Russia, which has been really coming on recently.”
After qualifying for worlds, the NEXXICE juniors left for Salzburg, Austria, where they finished second in the Mozart Cup, missing gold by .35 of a point.
The NEXXICE Junior synchronized skating team will represent Canada at the World Championships in March.