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Three OMHA Players Selected for 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Roster

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 01/08/24, 11:15AM EST


Tournament takes place at end of January in South Korea

The roster for Team Canada is set for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics and features three OMHA players.

Goalies Mateo Beites (Barrie) and Colin Ellsworth (York-Simcoe) are joined by defenceman Callum Croskery (Oakville) to round out the group competing at the Gangwon 2024 Games in South Korea. The three players each currently play U16 AAA.

They will be part of a team looking to win Canada’s first gold medal at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Held every four years, the men’s hockey team won a bronze medal at both Innsbruck 2012 and Lausanne 2020 and a silver at Lillehammer 2016.

The tournament features six teams and will take place from January 27-31 (Days 8 – 12) at the Gangneung Hockey Centre. Team Canada opens against host South Korea on January 27 at 6 am EST and will play Finland on January 29 at 6 am EST. Semifinal matches will be played on January 30, with the medal games on January 31. 

The Youth Olympic Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for high-performance young athletes aged 15-18. Gangwon 2024 will run from January 19 to February 1 and will feature 1,900 athletes. This will be the fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympics and the first to be hosted in Asia. The Games will feature seven sports and a total of 81 events.

Since its inception in 2010, the Youth Olympics are hosted every two years, with a rotation between the Winter and Summer editions.

We spoke with the three participants ahead of the Games:

What does I mean to you to be selected to the team?

Beites: It means everything. I got the call and it’s an honour being selected for such a good team.

Croskery: It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to represent my country on this type of stage. I’m super excited and looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be an awesome experience for me.

Ellsworth: It’s an honour and to see all the work I’ve put in finally come to a result. All the work that everyone else has put in, the Express organization, my parents, everyone that has helped me get here, it’s just a great milestone for me and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

What does it mean to represent Canada?

Ellsworth: It’s great, it’s my country, I’ve lived here since I was born. Never thinking I was going to represent my country. It still hasn’t sunk in fully to me yet, I’m still trying to process it. I look around my house and I see some Canada gear, and I look back and think ‘wow, I never really thought I’d get an opportunity to represent Canada.'

Beites: It means everything. I get to represent my home country and it’s a great opportunity for me and my family.

Croskery: It’s super important to me with how much pride I have to live in such a great country. Watching Canada on TV, whether it’s World Juniors, World Cup of Hockey or the Olympics, it’s just always been something that I wanted to do so it’s an honour to get this privilege now.

What was your first reaction to being selected?

Croskery: I was in shock. I knew the selection was going on but didn’t really set in at first that I really made the team. It me took a day or two to sink in. it was just a shock, I couldn’t believe that I did it.

Ellsworth: It was very exciting. It was a bit of a shock. I just really couldn’t believe. I wanted to jump, I was really, really excited.

What do you think the experience will be like for you?

Ellsworth: I think it’s going to be great. Hopefully we have success as a team. It’s not only going to be what we do on the ice but what we do off the ice that’s going to live with me forever. It’s going to be unforgettable.

Croskery: I think it’s going to be super interesting. Travelling to a different continent and country. I think Korea is going to be cool. I’m also looking forward to watching some of the other sports that are going on.

What are you most looking forward to?

Beites: Just what the overall competition is going to be. It’s the best of the best, so it’s going to be awesome.

Ellsworth: I’m most looking forward to the bond we have as a team. We’re going to be with each other for a decent amount of time when we go to BC and then South Korea. It’s going to be a great time bonding as a team away from the ice. I’m looking forward to being with those new guys and meeting them, seeing the new skill from not only the western part of Canada but other countries we don’t get to see often. 

What are some things you’ll be able to learn from this to take back to your OMHA team?

Croskery: Playing with pride. Playing as a proud member of your team and playing for a bigger cause. Not just for you, you’re playing for something else.

Ellsworth: I think it’s going to bring tons of confidence to my game. Not only confidence but maybe learn some new things that I see the best guys around the country and around the world doing. Maybe a new move I might learn from the other goalies I see. I’m going to take home a lot of friendships with me and that’s going to be great.

Beites: It’ll help me mature my game and me as a person. Hopefully take back some new skills that I learn playing against the best.

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