KITCHENER – It's a hockey rivalry for the ages and it's about to start heating up.

Before teams from Canada and Russia face off on Boxing Day, the all-star players have to be chosen.

On Thursday, part of the evaluation process began in the region.

About 20 OHL players hit the ice in preparation for the big game, including one player from the Kitchener Rangers.

"I woke up really excited this morning and I'm just looking forward to getting in the rink," says Riley Damiani.

"It makes it a lot easier when you're comfortable with your environment and the guys are all great guys, all good friends of mine so it's really easy to be comfortable here."

The two countries are facing off in a six-game series, where each game is played in a different junior hockey arena across the country, including the one here in Kitchener.

These players are all Canadian National Junior Team candidates, competing against Russia's junior team candidates on Thursday.

This game is an important part in the evaluation process to find out who will play for Team Canada in the 2020 World Junior Championship.

This year, the tournament will be held in the Czech Republic.

Tickets to Thursday's game sold quickly, with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m.