Teammates have become brothers says Blenkhorn
© File Photo
Brad Blenkhorn added to his collection of world championship titles this month in Finland.
AMHERST - After winning a world championship in 2008 and 2010, Amherst's Brad Blenhorn recently returned home from Tampere, Finland with a 2012 world championship gold medal draped around his neck.
Canada won the title following a 6-3 win over Finland in the final of the 2012 International Standing Ice Hockey Federation, World Amputee Hockey Championships.
Blenkhorn scored Canada's fifth goal in the championship game.
"Finland kept coming at us the whole game," said Blenkhorn. "We started the first period really well, then we had a slow second, picked it up at the end of the second, and then finished it off in the third."
Blenkhorn said it never gets old winning world championships.
"It's always a good feeling," he said. "And we had six or seven new guys this time, so it's always good adding new guys to the core and seeing how excited they are winning the first time."
He scored three goals and an assist over the four-game tournament.
"I scored in each of our two games against Finland and I scored against Latvia."
Blenhorn was shutout in Canada's 6-1 win over the U.S.
"I was happy with how I played all week," he said.
The 31-year-old, six-foot, 200-pound, forward's amputation is on his right leg, below the knee.
He said he's getting more responsibility with the team.
"I play more on the power play and the penalty kill, and I'm getting more of a regular shift now," he said. "Our top ten forwards are all quite strong, so we can interchange between the first, second and third line."
He said the 2012 team is a tight-knit group.
"There's 10 or 12 of us who have been there for the last six years that I've been around, and the six or seven new guys we brought over this year really meshed well," said Blenkhorn. "Of the three teams I've been on, it's probably the tightest group of 20 guys we've had. There's a lot of guys I consider brothers now."
Two of those brothers are recent additions to the team.
Ontario's Michael Barnewall lost his right foot to a landmine in Afghanistan.
"He made the team this year as one of our defencemen," said Blenkhorn. "He's worked really hard the last few years to get back to living every day."
The team sent some video of Barnewall playing at the world championship to Don Cherry hoping he might get some airtime on Hockey Night in Canada.
It's part of a campaign by Blenkhorn and his team to raise awareness of their league by affiliating themselves with other groups. Last year they visited CFB Valcartier in Quebec City and worked with wounded veterans.
Another new addition to the team is Sean Venedam of Sudbury, Ont. Venedam played his rookie season with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League when Amherst's Jamie Matthews was playing his last season with the team.
"He played 15 years of pro hockey on the East Coast in the United Hockey League," said Blenkhorn. "He broke his leg playing in the United League and went through three years of surgeries to try to fix his leg and it never really healed for him, so he talked to a couple of guys on the team and elected to have his leg amputated.
"He's got back his quality of life, and within five months he was trying out for our team and ended up making it," added Blenkhorn. "He scored 14 points in four games (at the worlds). His line had 40 points in four games."
Blenkhorn said Venedam is happy with his decision to have his leg amputated.
“I think he had a really good week around the guys,” said Blenkhorn. “When you play 15 years of pro and then get to play for your country, it’s a good feeling.
”Blenkhorn hopes to take part in the 2014 ISIHF World Championships in Buffalo, New York, and the 2016 championships in Latvia.
"My plan is to keep going as long as I can," he said. "I plan (to play) for the next six years, so I'd like to play three more (world championships) if I could."