The gold medal game at the Ivan Hlinka tournament brought tons of emotions to the boys on Team Canada and I’ve never seen a team so focused and jacked up before a game. At our hotel beforehand, we had a video presentation by our video man that showed scenes from the movie 300 and clips of highlights from our previous tournament games. I think everybody was feeling the goosebumps after watching it.
After the video, we boarded the bus and it was complete silence all the way to the arena during the 15-minute ride; you could just tell everybody was envisioning the end results, the celebration we’ve been longing for.
As far as game plan is concerned, we knew the Russians didn’t want to play the physical game at all, as they were a straight-up run-and-gun team. We were also an extremely skilled team and could have played this game with them and still won, but that is not the Canadian style of hockey.
As a team and a coaching staff, we agreed our game was complete domination in all aspects, and that covers the physical side of the game, the defensive side the game, the special teams and our offensive game. We wanted to set the tone of every game from the very first shift right to the end. We would start games by just getting the puck in their end and pounding the defensemen through the boards. We were out to send a vividly clear message from the moment the puck dropped.
Coach Bob Boughner broke the game down into three separate contests; each period was its own game. We wanted to win each little game and we always succeeded in doing that. After the first intermission, we would look at the second period as a whole new game, starting all over from a 0-0 score, so mentally we were just as hungry and wouldn’t let the score dictate how we played.
We applied relentless pressure all game and there was no mercy, as you can tell from the final score – 9-2. We had six key words that we applied to every game: consistency, perseverance, family, discipline, accountability and respect. This was our guideline as to how we played and presented ourselves on the ice representing Canada.
The celebration was one of the greatest feelings I’ve experienced. The on-ice celebration was just like any other; the buckets, gloves, sticks, and neckguards strewn all over the ice, the boys jumping the goalie and everybody giving complete bear hugs. The whooping sound never dies and everybody was yelling at the top of their lungs, while holding up the No. 1 sign. Some guys were wrapped around in the Canadian flag. The pride was just unbelievable. Once we were presented with the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Trophy, we each had a few seconds with it, with the exception of my roommate Tyler Toffoli, who took it for a skate. What a beauty.
Once we moved to the dressing room after celebrating on the ice for at least a solid 30 minutes, the coaching staff came in and ‘Boughie’ gave us a speech. Then goalie Louis Domingue, who was awarded with a game puck for being voted by us (the players, not the tournament officials) as player of the game the contest before, gave a speech. This was something we did the whole tournament.
The first game, Boughner gave the game puck to Brandon Gormley, who we thought was our player of the game, and he gave a real short speech. After the next game, Gormley presented the game puck to whom he thought was the player of that game, and it kept rotating like that throughout the tournament.
Jeff Skinner was Domingue’s selection for player of the game after the gold medal game. After the speeches, we turned on some music and started dancing.
Once all was said and done, we finally started to get showered up and ready for the remainder of the night, which we spent at the hotel. There wasn’t much time because we had to leave at 12:30 that night for a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to Vienna, Austria for our flight home.
Right winger Gregg Sutch enters his second year in the Ontario League having been traded over the summer to Mississauga from Sarnia. The 17-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., is taking part in the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia and is highly touted for the 2010 NHL draft. He will blog throughout the season for THN.com.