BERN, Switzerland – Luke Schenn came to the IIHF World Hockey Championship to gain some experience but this wasn’t quite what he was hoping for.
While the 19-year-old defenceman is thrilled that Canada has reached the tournament’s gold medal game, he wishes he could be playing a bigger part in the success.
Schenn didn’t see any ice time during Friday’s semifinal win over Sweden or Thursday’s quarter-final victory over Latvia. He was dressed for both games but was stuck to the end of the bench.
Even still, he’s trying to make the most of the situation.
“It’s a different experience,” Schenn said Saturday. “It’s good to just be here and learn from all the other guys.”
Canadian coach Lindy Ruff isn’t trying to punish Schenn for poor play. The Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman was simply the odd man out after defencemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Braydon Coburn joined the Canadian team midway through the event.
Ruff doesn’t like to have more than six defencemen in his rotation.
“If you get in games like this and try to play seven or eight defencemen, I really think it disrupts the flow of your top four guys,” he explained. “We’ve been in some pretty tight games where we’re trying to count on our key pairs to play against the other teams top lines.
“And I don’t think it’s fair, when you get down the road in a game, all of a sudden you throw a cold player out there and ask him to play well for you.”
Schenn is coming off a strong rookie season with the Maple Leafs and is still happy to be in Switzerland. He’s tried to serve as a bit of a cheerleader on the bench and spent a lot of time focusing on the play of Shea Weber – Canada’s top defenceman here.
Whether he gets to step on the ice or not Sunday, he wants to beat Russia in the final as much as anyone else.
“Even though you’re not playing, you’re still a part of the team,” said Schenn. “You want the guys to win beside you and win the gold medal not just for ourselves here, but I guess for Canada. It’s still exciting and it’s awesome to be a part of.”
As much as it might hurt now, many around the team believe Schenn will be better for having gone through it.
After all, he hadn’t even been drafted at this point last year. He’s come a long way.
“The opportunity to be on a world stage is a great experience,” said Ruff. “He’s going to grow from it.”