TEAM OF THE WEEK: NEXXICE JU­NIORS

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - smil­ton@thes­pec.com 905-526-3268 | @mil­to­natthes­pec

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.

SEAN MCKIN­NON PHOTO

The NEXXICE Ju­nior syn­chro­nized skat­ing team will rep­re­sent Canada at the World Cham­pi­onships in March.

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