It is the same hard lesson England learned with soccer, rugby and cricket.
At some point, the game you gave to the world becomes the world’s.
It was a humbling week internationally for Canadian hockey as the U.S., Sweden and Russia swept the medals at both the 2013 world junior tournament in Ufa, Russia, and World U-17 Challenge in Victoriaville, Que.
“It’s a kick in the gut,” said Victoria Royals rookie defenceman Joe Hicketts, who captained Canada Team Pacific to fifth place at the World U-17 Challenge.
“Canada is no longer considered the best hockey nation and everyone comes out thinking they can beat Canada. Nobody is going to respect us for what we did in the past. We have to re-earn that respect.”
The Canadian style is different, noted Hicketts.
“There is more speed and less contact in the international game,” said the Kamloops native, who was joined on Team Pacific by fellow Royals blueliner Ryan Gagnon of Quesnel and Edmonton Oil Kings rearguard Dysin Mayo of Victoria. “Players think differently in the international game. It’s a more open, skill game. The WHL is more physical.”
Not that Canadians necessarily need to change their style.
“We get back by playing our game,” said Hicketts.
Meanwhile, with six players on the Royals roster produced by American programs, head coach Dave Lowry is well positioned to comment on the U.S. team’s comprehensive semifinal victory over Canada en route to the gold medal win over Sweden at the world junior championships.
“The U.S. has a very good development program,” said Lowry.
“There has been growth in the game to the point that even California, Arizona and Texas are producing good players. We’ve seen it on our roster. We’re always looking at all different places for players.”
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