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By: Kerry Jackson – JuniorHockey.com

Even the most devoted hockey fans might not know that Australia has a national junior team that competes in international play. It plays in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Division III, along with a few other teams from countries that aren’t usually associated with hockey.

According to Wikipedia, there are only 22 ice rinks in Australia, which about the number one would expect to find in any suburban Toronto town.

Still, the Australians have produced one American Hockey League player, Nathan Walker of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. Walker played in nine National Hockey League games last year, seven for the Washington Capitals, two with the Edmonton Oilers. The country has also placed quite a few junior hockey players in North America, including 1999-born Tyrone Bronte, a forward who’s scored three goals in four games this season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in his first season in the North American Hockey League; Findlay Wood, a 1999 forward with the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears; and Bayley Kubara, 1998 defenseman playing the Eastern Hockey League for the North Carolina Golden Bears.

Other Australian players sprinkled across the U.S. and Canadian junior and youth hockey footprint are:

Alexander Wardlaw, 1999, defenseman, Boston Jr. Rangers, EHL

Jeremy Vasquez, 2000, forward, Seahawks Hockey, EHL

James Downie, 1999, goalie, Meijer AAA, North American Prospects Hockey League

Julian Fodor, 2000, forward, Kamloops Storm, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League

Sean McLean, 1998, forward, Great Falls Americans, North American 3 Hockey League

Declan Bronte, 2002, defenseman, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Tier 1 Elite Hockey League

Arthur Wang, 2002, defenseman, Schomberg Cougars, Provincial Junior Hockey League

Brayden Martin, 1998, forward, Lake Tahoe Icemen, Western States Hockey League

Connor Lee, 2001, forward, Steele County Blades, United States Premier Hockey League-Premier

Connor Schultz, forward, 2002, Delta Hockey Academy

Ethan Hawes, 2002, defenseman, Everett Jr. Silvertips, North American Prospects Hockey League

Lachlan Fahmy, 1999, defenseman, South Shore Kings, USPHL-Premier

Aaron Grubb, 1998, forward, Seaforth Generals, Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League

Australia’s national junior team will play in the 2019 IIHF Division III U20 Junior World Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, in January. Tryouts and training camp for the tournament will be held from Nov. 6 through Dec. 11.

David Ruck, who previously coached the Perth Thunder of the Australian Ice Hockey League, will be behind the bench. It’s his first year as head coach of the national team. Ruck, who grew up in Australia but was born in British Columbia, where he played in the late 1980s, will be looking for a vast improvement over last year’s team. That squad won one game in regulation, one in overtime, and lost three in regulation to finish in fifth place out of six teams.