A pair of Durham Region natives will be lacing up the skates in hopes of helping Ontario men’s hockey team repeat as gold-medal champions at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, being held Feb. 15 to March 3 in Red Deer, Alta.

Ajax native Liam Arnsby, 15, a forward with the Don Mills Flyers of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) and Flyers teammate and Pickering native Brennan Othmann, 15, a forward, were among the 19 players named to the under-16 Team Ontario Roster on Jan. 7.

Team Ontario will be heading into the competition as the defending champions after having defeated Team Alberta four years ago in Prince George, B.C.

“Extremely honoured for this exciting opportunity to represent my province ,” Othmann tweeted, after making the roster. “Thank you everyone for believing in me, helping me build my confidence and character on and off the ice. Can’t wait to get started with this amazing group of players and coaches.”

Leading the 2019 men’s team will be head coach and Ottawa native Jeff Jordan, who led last year’s team to gold. Assistant coaches will be Toronto native Steve Devine and Kitchener native Dean DeSilva.

Team Ontario director of hockey operations is Barrie native Darrell Woodley, who selected the roster.

“We are excited about the players we have named to Team Ontario,” said Woodley, who is the Ontario Hockey League central scouting director. “The selection process was extremely difficult, but I believe we have a team that is highly skilled and will push the pace at the Canada Winter Games.”

Ontario will prepare to defend its gold medal by gathering for a pre-tournament camp Feb. 11-14  at Toronto.

“The goal for our camp in Toronto prior to flying out to Red Deer is to familiarize the players with what we would like to do as a team but, more importantly, have the players get to know one another and come together as a team,” Jordan said. “If the team comes together and bonds, if we work hard and for one another, I believe the results at the competition will speak for themselves. Obviously we would like to set our goals high, but it will be with our preparation, work ethic and attention to detail that will get us to where we want to be.”

Featuring more than 150 events in 19 sports and a major arts and cultural festival, the 2019 Winter Games will welcome up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches and more than 100,000 spectators, with a forecasted economic impact of over $132 million dollars.

Photo: Owen Sound Attack forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki is one of four members of this year’s Canada’s National Junior Team who helped Team Ontario win gold at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo

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