Dillon Dube´ brings home gold with Team Canada
Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 06:00 am
Cochrane product Dillon Dubč is riding high after his Canadian World Junior team took gold at the international tournament earning redemption from last year’s championship round loss to the United States.
“I don’t even think about the game last year because this game was so great,” said Dubč. “After Steener (Tyler Steenbergen) scored that goal, I think that was the greatest high I’ve ever had and the emotion was unbelievable. To be able to lock it down and get the empty net goal was a really great moment.”
Dube was a part of the Canadian team last year when he and his Team Canada teammates fell to their rivals from the United States by a score of 5-4 in a shootout of the gold medal game during the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) U-20 World Junior Hockey Championships.
This year, the emotions and feelings were quite a bit different for Dubč, as he captained Canada to a 3-1 victory in the finals over Sweden, thanks to a goal by Sylvan Lake’s Tyler Steenbergen, his first of the tournament, with 1:40 to go in regulation with the game knotted at one. Dubč scored Canada’s first goal of the game early in the second period, a period after having another goal called off due to a quick whistle from the referees, who lost sight of the puck.
Team Canada’s captain said he used the disallowed goal as motivation to score the eventual first goal of the contest in front of a rambunctious Canadian crowd that travelled across the border to Buffalo, NY, where the tournament was being held.
“It was tough, but we had to move on. We gained some momentum after being able to get that first one in the game and it was a nice confidence boost,” Dubč said.
“I thought we played well throughout the game. They (Sweden) took it to us a little bit at the start of the game, there were a lot of nerves on our side. It felt like we were at home again with all the fans there. I think we were gripping our sticks a bit, but once we settled in after the first couple goals, I think we played great. We won the game so it was unbelievable.”
Alex Formenton potted the empty net goal and Sherwood Park native Carter Hart made 35 saves in the game to give Canada its second gold medal at the tournament in four years.
Dubč played all seven games in the tournament, finishing eighth in scoring on Team Canada’s roster with three goals and two assists, showing off just how balanced of attack the team had throughout the duration of the games. That depth was highlighted by the fact Steenbergen, who was the team’s 13th forward and played the least amount among the 22-man Canadian roster, scored the tournament winning goal.
“It sounds cliché when I say we were a team that’s four lines deep, but Tyler (Steenbergen) scoring that goal really shows that it was the identity of the team,” Dubč said.
“I couldn’t be happier for any other guy to get the goal and right when he scored, I think it was the best feeling for myself and every other guy on the team, just for him personally, too. He got that goal and he’s a champion forever now.”
Dubč , the Calgary Flames second round pick, also said that one of his favourite parts of the tournament was skating in front of 45,000 fans in the World Junior’s first ever-outdoor game, one that Canada dropped a 4-3 decision to the United States.
“I know we lost but now, that doesn’t really matter for us,” Dubč said.
“It was nice to be able to play in that. It was probably the coolest experience I’ve ever had, with 45,000 people there. I’d say half of them were Canadian so that was really cool.”
Dubč will take a bit of a break before returning to action with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets to rest up and get prepared for the second half of their season. Dubč said he still has a bit of unfinished business to take care of before he finishes his junior hockey career, as the Cochrane native and the Rockets are looking to make another deep run in the playoffs and push for another league championship.
“This is my last year of junior and I kind of want to step it up, really learn how to be consistent in the second half,” Dubč said.
“Obviously, you’re tired, you get bumps and bruises, so you’ve really got to be able to battle and step up my game heading into playoffs.”