HALIFAX - Undoubtedly, the world junior hockey championship clearly illustrated that there is no shortage of top-notch up and coming talent.
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
Halifax Mooseheads netminder Zach Fucale.
Plenty of it isnât only coming from Canada.
Sundayâs thrilling final between Finland and Sweden stood as a fitting finish for a memorable week and half of hockey.
âThe championship game, that was one of the fastest games Iâve seen in a long time,â said Halifax Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell.
âWe have to realize that, hey there are some really good hockey teams out there.â
For the second time in as many years, Team Canada was denied a medal, finishing fourth.
On Monday evening Zach Fucale, Team Canadaâs starting goalie, and Jonathan Drouin, its No. 1 forward, returned to Halifax to carry on their lives with the Mooseheads. Theyâre expected to be back in the lineup for both weekend games at home.
âFirst of all theyâre great competitors, they love hockey, they want to win and theyâre coming back and I know theyâll be excited to be back here,â said Russell.
âIâm proud of what both those guys did. They handled themselves professionally; they played with fire. Fucale at 18 years old played great against the worldâs best junior hockey players and Jonathan was easily one of the best forwards for Team Canada every night.â
No doubt, the pain of defeat and unfilled expectation will be difficult for the pair to get over. But, Russell believes neither player pays much heed to the heavy and sometimes malicious criticism thatâs been directed at Team Canada and its players.
âAnytime you put on a Canadian jersey thereâs a ton of pressure. There are a lot of players in Canada who know the game, understand the game and have high expectations. Thatâs hockey. These guys have been subjected to this for a long time; they understand thatâs part of it.
âAs for the negativity, thatâs the ugly side of it. It usually comes from the people who definitely couldnât do what those guys have accomplished. Iâm not worried about it.â
Now, itâs back to the business of hockey. With Tuesdayâs trade deadline looming, Russell remains open to last minute moves.
âWe are like every other team that is working hard to try to improve their team. Weâll do it if it makes sense for our organization. I like the team we have, if we can improve it for the right price weâll do it.â