This was not be an easy road, but there was nothing sweeter than going into the Czech Republic and winning gold. This team we will not be denied. They prepared for this moment. The staff had prepared for this moment. This collection of players and staff together with only one goal in mind, GOLD it is what they played for and it is what they won. WE ARE CANADA!
Each and everyone of them were leaders. They played with speed, skill, work ethic and game management. In Canada this isn't just a game. They became a family and was their home for two weeks. We are in the business of winning GOLD and those before them have set a standard by which was followed by this group cause and as you looked around and look into the eyes of your teammates and you felt the passion that burned in each of them. WE ARE CANADA!
They played with their head, heart, attitude and brought the Canadian game each and every shift. It is who they are and as a team it is who they were. They played with a willingness to work as a team and play for eachother. They listened to the coaches and staff and played as a team. WE ARE CANADA!
Plan to work and work the plan as championships are never a given....they earned it and took the games from their opposition!! Before them was an opportunity, but they had to work to grab it and win it! WE ARE CANADA!
This will be one of the best times of your life filled with wonderful experiences and life of memories with their teammates!
This is their journey. WE ARE CANADA!!
FINALLY THE TEAM CAME TOGETHER AND THE QUEST FOR GOLD BEGAN
Day 1- Tuesday, June 12
Opening day of mini-camp and you could see and feel the excitement as the boys began to roll into the hotel before the first day of practice and what a first day it was…..
The 2012 team like all previous great teams was built from the net out with athletic defencemen, but a U-20 team has never had the depth up front as this team had with any line being able to contribute.
The practice was kept high tempo with some break out drills to set the tone for the week ahead.
The day ended with a team meal at the host hotel.
Tomorrow came early for the boys with breakfast at 900 am followed by practice at 10:00 am
Day 2 - Wednesday, June 13
This is where the foundation by the coaching staff and players was set. In addition to the usual technique drills and skills exercises that make up a large part of any practice and the coaches held a scrimmage to begin formulating line combinations.
Throughout this journey and process, the boys will push past their limits and help their teammates get past theirs. They will grow and build towards the goal.
This is what team bonding is all about. All of it is important and it will test the players to be better as individuals and collectively a 'TEAM'. The physical preparation is one big part of camp, but the mental preparation and the challenges the team will face mentally as a group will be the greatest strength.
Tonight……dinner at Earl's.
Earl's…..the team ingested some carbs and protein in style Wednesday night at Earl's (Vaughan). The team was sporting the black golf shirts as they were bused to the restaurant and upon arrival the boys, took their place at a long table where they were served "family style," the food presented to each of them beginning with salads, a main course of their selection and ending with an array of desserts…..needless to say a crowd pleaser!
Following the dinner the team boarded the bus to catch some Premier Ball Hockey League action viewed on ROGERS cable in the Toronto and surrounding area. The team was treated to a game between the Brampton Express and Vaughan Red Wings. During the game Steve Dockerty joined Anthony Regin and Daniel Ranalli in the booth to discuss the Junior Team Canada program. At the conclusion of the game, players Tony Brar, Kevin Bailie and Head Coach Ian Poulsen were interviewed to discuss the U-20 program.
The team then loaded the bus and retreated to their rooms and they knew Thursday morning would be here soon and the team had so much to look forward to with the TEAM building exercises.
Day 3 - Thursday, June 14
As we know successful ball hockey player will possess a diverse array of physical skills. It is impossible to succeed in this sport as a specialist in only one of its dimensions; the sport demands a measure of ability in each of its fundamental aspects: running, ball handling, and playmaking, passing, shooting, and the physical side of the game.
Ball hockey is much like other sports in the sense that its elite-level players are rarely one dimensional. A comprehensive ball hockey training program must address each of these components of the game.
The TEAM was lead through a one hour work out before practice which included six stations where they would work on foot speed, agility, core exercises, and mini-hurdles.
Following the program, the boys worked on the implementation of the system and specialty units as the TEAM was coming together.
The afternoon was spent at Playadium where the team was given one hour all access passes to the games and batting cages followed by a visit to the Square One Shopping Centre.
The team retreated for the dinner at the hotel before the anticipated Friday Blue Jay game.
Day 4 - Friday, June 15
The team was now fully engulfed in the routine. They awoke to a hardy breakfast and prepared for team building and practice as the anticipated departure was now only one day away, but first a visit to downtown Toronto and the Blue Jays versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
The team headed out for the sites and sounds of downtown Toronto and dinner at Jack Astor's where the team chowed down on delicious food. It is this vital bonding and relaxation time and the fun and frivolity which will take this team to where they want to be on Saturday, June 23….the Championship final.
What a great day it was, to stand back and enjoy the TEAM coming together!!
WE ARE CANADA!
Day 5 - Saturday, June 16
Breakfast (check), Team building (check), Practice (check), Lunch (check), Prepare for Bus Pick up and destination Czech Republic.
Bus ride to airport…..15 minutes……await departure….3 hours…….8 hour flight to Frankfurt…..3 hour layover……1 hour flight to Prague…..1 hour bus ride and arrival to Pisek……opportunity to win GOLD for CANADA, PRICELESS!
Day 6 - Sunday, June 17
Arrival to the Hotel Bila Ruze and dinner.
Day 7 - Monday, June 18
The team awoke in the peaceful town of Pisek and had a hardy breakfast before heading to the arena for practice.
The team walked to the rink for the better part of the 90 minute practice to get used to the arena (plastic blue floor) and into their friendly confines the Team Canada dressing room today which will be home for the next five days.
Tomorrow…..THE CHAMPIONSHIPS begin!!!!
Day 8 - Tuesday, June 19
We had completed final preparation for the tournament and the ball drops at 3:00 pm versus Team Germany. What time is it? GAME TIME!!!
Destiny doesn't decide if we win.. WE DO!
Austin Morley had a good feeling last night was going to be a good night as this was his first start at the World Junior Championships and he was right. Team Canada played a hard forechecking, disciplined brand of ball hockey.
Up front the team was led by Darcy Murphy with 2 goals and 3 assists en route to a 10-1 victory.
Although it was our first game we played very well. I am glad that we scored early goals and then it was about game management and working on defense.' stated head Coach, Ian Poulsen shortly after the game.
Team Germany was under great pressure from the begining as Darcy Murphy scored early goal with sharp slap shot at 1:16. The German goaltender Klimesh played very well denying the Canadians attack saving many chances, but in 5th minute Tony Brar scored on a goal mouth scrammble. Before the end of the first period Canada would add two more goals by Kory Brown and Tony Brar to give Canada a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Team Germany kept pushing the ball up the floor, but again Canadian forward Jack Davison scored from in tight and Jacob Robitaille would add another one to end the second period 6-0.
After Matt Mc Dougall would score and Brown added his second Team Germany celebrated their first marker as Ferdinand Hibler would beat Morley on a two on one to the far side with a wrist shot. A few minutes later Murphy scored his second and Christian Magnus would round out the scoring on a breakaway.
Gordon Lang, Head Coach of Team Germany, Team Canada is one of the favorites in this championship and their players confirmed that as they played well today, but we leave with the experience of playing a world class team.
"We played really great game and the early goals helped us to calm down." Team Germany was a good opponent as they were very persistently Now we have to prepare for teh next game" said after the win Darcy Murphy.
Day 9 - Wednesday, June 20
The arena was a buzz with the first of the two big match ups of the tournament and the local schools were well aware of the games allowing students to attend the CANADA vs United States of America. Just minutes into the game the teams were greeted with chants of CANADA.....CANADA...and...USA...USA....the building was electric with anticipation.
The USA received key stops early by goaltender Jonathan Ruiz and the team started to push the pace and at 5:03 of the first would score the Americans second goal on the power play by Tyler Warila from the slot and the Canada was down early by two.
Just two minutes before the end of first period Jacob Robitaille got his team into the game coming off the wing from left circle. At the start of the second periond, Tanner Dockerty would steal the ball off the defenceman and walk in from the right circle and put the ball in the top corner over the goalies glove hand.
By the mid way through the second and balance of the game Team Canadabegan to control the tempo of the game asserting itself and the Americans found themselves under tremendous pressure. Robitaille would score another two goals in the second period to complete his hat trick. In third period Canadians controlled the game and gave up no scoring chances to the USA.
Cory Herschk, Head Coach for Team USA It was tough game. We started well, but the Canadians confirmed their quality and they deserved the win.
Ian Poulsen, We had very slow start and the Americans took advantage of it, but as teh game went along we got our legs moving and our performance improved.
Day 10 - Thursday, June 21
The game for the most part was very sluggish as the team's played more not to make any mistakes and thus both goalies didn´t have much work during the first period. Canada had no problems killing a two may advantage against the home town Czech Repulbic.
After Canada killed the Czech powerplay they would score on a man advantage themselves as Tony Brar's pass found Tanner Dockerty, who made it 1-0.
The game went back and forth seemingly a special unit game exchanging power play opportunities. Tony Brar scored to make it 2-0 deflecting the ball past the sprwaled netminder. Lukáš Hofmeister, but the hosts didn´t manage to tie on their second five on three power play.
The Czechs started the third period with a better performance as Dalimil Zvonek tied the game, but less than a minute later, Canada was leading thanks to Derick Robertson. In continuing the trend of special teams, Canada wouldn't take advantage of two men power play in the third period. After killing the 5 on 3 the Czechs would tie the game a few minutes later with a shot by Ladislav Bittner and the game would end in a 3 to 3 tie.
Day 11 - Friday, June 22
It was a much anticipated contest between Canada and the Slovak Republic with the winner clinching a position in Saturday's final. The game was end to end as these familiar foes treated us with some wonderful plays and good defence as it would end in a 1-1 tie.
The Slovaks took the lead at the 11:20 mark of the first period. The ball was passed across the net on a power play and Roman Kohutiar put the ball into the empty net as Canadian netminder Kevin Bailie had no chance.
In this game, it was Canada's work ethic which turned the momentum after equalling the game on a goal by Matt Quilty.
Canada again was bit with the penalty bug as they surrendered the only goal against on the power play and had two five on threes and had to hold off the late frenzy as the game would end with Slovakia on the power play.
The tie would give the Canadians top spot in the pool and a spot in the Championship Final.
The staff had stressed discipline to be a major key in these games which must be carried out as the team moved forward into the Final. As much as we want the team to play hard, they must play smart and discipline which will be one of the biggest keys to the team success.
Following the game the team gathered for a visit to a local orphanage in Pisek where they spent some time with the children and brought gifts for the visit.
Day 12 - Saturday, June 23
The Championship - When Team Canada arrived in Prague on June 17, many had not been oversea's and the moment was captured on their faces with the anticipation of playing for their country was now setting in. This was their moment. It seemed surreal, this was the game they had played in most of their lives in their driveways, streets with parents, siblings and friends, but this was the world stage and the team were one of the favorites as defending champions.
The team had arrived in Toronto a few days earlier in for minicamp and preparation so there was a comfort level and similar atmosphere with high tempo practices and scrimmages. It was those practices that set the stage for the next six days at the World Championships.
So on Saturday, June 23 after completing the round robin portion of the tournament 2-0-2 record the team knew they still had that one final game to conquer against the home town, Czech Republic. The last time the squads met was in the round robin cross over and drew to a 3-3 tie in a penalty filled game.
It would be hard to imagine for Team Canada to play a more flawless game than it did against the Czech Republic, who stayed to their system of the trap and working the counter punch on odd man rushes to the best of their ability.
It was going to be small things that determined the outcome of this championship game. Who controlled the tempo? who would be more disciplined? who would capitalize on opportunities? who would get that big save? There wasn't much separating the two teams but those small, little details that would be the difference.
Team Canada had a better start in these finals and was thwarted on many opportunities by the Czech Republic goaltender, Moraviec creating a lot of pressure with many shots on goal.
Moraviec held his team for a long time with some great saves, but in the 11th minute, Jacob Robitaille jumped on a loose ball in the slot and fired home the opening goal. Team Canada would continue their relentless pressure and the period ended 1-0.
The second period opend on a Czech Republic powerplay and Lukáš Hofmeister equalized with an accurate shot from the blue line. The play for the balance of the period was end to end with the goaltenders stealing the show. However, with minutes left in the second period the home team would send the crowd into a frenzy on a goal by Daniel ?ermák and go into the third period with a 2-1 lead.
The final period brought was filled with fantastic drama with the defending champions down by one to the home crowd favorites. However, the celebrations were put on hold early in the third period as the Canadians equalized early with a Jacob Robitaille's second goal of the game on the powerplay. Mroviec continued his brillance and held the game tied until the 41st minute when the Czech captain Št?páník was called on a charging penalty after hitting the Canadian goaltender and putting Team Canada on the power play with less than four minutes to play. The Canadians won the draw back and Jason Shaw's shot which missed the net found the stick of Tony Brar and he put the ball behind the helpless Czech netmindr for the 3-2 go ahead goal.
The final minutes had the Czech Republic forcing all of their players to the net in a last gasp effort to tie the game, but in the end it was Canada that would previal in this epic final and return Canada to their third consecutive gold result at the U-20 Championships.
Shortly after the final horn the Czech Republic Head Coach, Ji?í Mašík would say, it hurts right now cause we were so close, but these were two good teams and it was a good match.
Ian Poulsen, Team Canada Head Coach followed up by stating, we played a great tournament and it all ended with a victory in today's match. We weren't in a favoroable position heading into the final period, but we believed that we could turn the game around and thanks to our patient game, we achieved that. I just have to thank the players for a perfect championship.
It was a moment that was a long time coming for this group of hard working Canadians. The biggest thing this year was the hard work and our hunger to win. This was a team where everything resolved around teamwork and everyone came together, and that's why it happened.
Moments after the conclusion of the game this tight-knit dressing room that seemingly spent every minute of the day together realized they had just done what no other team had accomplished with the three-peat for Canada and it's fourth since the events inception in 2000.
Shortly after the final horn had sounded, the teams came together for the closing ceremonies and team captain, Darcy Greenaway was presented our 'holy grail' and this will be a moment in time not soon forgotten by the team. The tournament and championship will be frozen in time, but the memories and friendships they have made will last a lifetime.
Let's not forget the work of the staff which began in August of 2010, the tireless efforts of Steve Dockerty, Ian Poulsen, Doug Shaw, Andrew Platt, Amanda Spence, Jason Su, Harvey Boutilier and Matt Paul.
After the celebration on the floor the team exchanged jerseys, tracksuits, and other souvenirs before departing for Prague and what quite the bus ride and days of celebration of this tremendous effort.
To the boys, their families, friends and to all of our supporters, we thank you.
THE CUP IS STAYING WHERE IT BELONGS……CANADA
THIS WAS THEIR TIME AND THEIR JOURNEY!!!