TRURO, N.S. – After mining silver at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ont., Team Canada East, who are once again led by head coach Billy McGuigan (Summerside Western Capitals/MHL), are looking to take it one step further this go around and skate away with a gold medal.
The four-country event that also features Canada West, Sweden, Slovakia and the defending champions from the United States taking part, has Canada East opening up Sunday evening, at 7:30 p.m. AT, against the Slovaks.
For the Summerside, P.E.I., product, this years WJAC is doubly notable to McGuigan.
“Anytime you get the opportunity to be involved with Hockey Canada, it’s very special,” said the affable Canada East coach and 2019-20 recipient of the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, emblematic of the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s (CJHL) coach of the year award, presented by the NHL Coaches’ Association.
“However, this is a little extra special. To be back is an absolute honour, but to do it in Atlantic Canada is pretty special. Having it this close to home is amazing.”
Working with an experienced staff, serving as assistant coaches: Peter Goulet (Powassan Voodoos/NOJHL); Derek Smith (Trenton Golden Hawks/OJHL) and Josh Hardiman (Powassan Voodoos/NOJHL), along with director of operations, Chris Vanstone (OJHL), McGuigan and company feel their group of players will have a lot to offer.
“I think we a have a tenacious team that can play a 200-foot game,” he offered when discussing his squad.
The Canada East group went through an exhaustive process of planning prior to eventually selecting their roster for the WJAC.
“As a staff we had an opportunity to attend various showcases involving a number of the eastern-based members of the CJHL, including last month’s Eastern Canada Cup Challenge, in Trenton, Ont., McGuigan stated when talking about putting together a line-up.”
“We created a list while scouting at the showcases, and having access to video now a days is also very helpful. That and speaking to staffs and players, while collecting feed back on certain players, in certain leagues, was also beneficial in finalizing our team.”
Sorting out all the views and thoughts they gathered added to the decision-making in formulating their line-up that will compete in Truro.
“I think the hardest part is the many voices,” provided McGuigan. “Obviously everyone you talk to has a different opinion and trying to maintain your own thoughts amongst that was the biggest challenge.”
The experience of winning a silver medal last year is something he will look to build upon, but knows it won’t come easy.
“Anytime you come to an event, such as the World Junior A Challenge, you want to win it, offered McGuigan on his team’s outlook coming in.”
“We know we are up against some tough competition, but we are here to try and make history.”
All World Junior A Challenge round robin games, as well as both semifinal contests, and the bronze medal match-up will be live-streamed via hockeycanada.ca.
As for the gold medal game, it will air on TSN & RDS at 5 p.m. AT on Sunday, Dec. 17.