Many of the top players in the NHL once played in the world under-17 hockey challenge and this weekend, the international tournament is back in the Maritimes.   

For one Team Canada coach, it's a return trip to a competition he won decades ago.

Dennis Williams coaches one of three teams representing Canada at the upcoming tournament.

Williams has been here before, winning when he was a player in 1995.

“To be back here with this group (Canada Team Black), makes it quite special for myself,” Williams said.

Canada has three teams in the tournament: Team Black, Team Red and Team White. There are five other teams including Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and the United States.  

“Every NHL team will be here with scouts,” said organizing committee chairman Aaron Kennedy. “A lot of the CHL teams will be here as well because they're looking for Canadian players for potential trades down the road, but also international players for future import drafts as well.”

Friday's practice was the last chance to get ready for the biggest competition any of these players have ever been in.

“A lot of people come to scout this tournament so obviously you want to put your best foot forward,” said Canada Team Black defenceman Jamie Drysdale. “I think they way to do that is come together as a team and make everyone else look good.”

Hotels and restaurants in the city are already busy and the math says, they'll be getting busier.

“Works out to 1,000 dozen eggs they're going to consume in the next 11 days,” said restaurant owner George Georgoudis.   “Protein, they're gonna consume over 7,000 pounds of protein. I did pasta as well -- about 8,000 pounds of pasta they're going to consume. It's crazy. They eat every three hours. Every three or four hours they've got to be fed.”

The tournament begins Saturday. Games will be played in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B.

Tickets are still on sale for most of the games, but not all. As you might expect, one of the marquis match-ups between Canada and Russia in the first round is sold out.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.