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Saturday, 23 April 2016 14:33

Taking Their Ball and Going to Prague Featured

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William Calverley and Jason Pineo will trade in their skates for shoes this summer and represent Canada at the 2016 World Ball Hockey Federation Junior World Championships

Courtesy of Hockey Canada web site

David Brien

April 21, 2016


With summer just around the corner, Canada’s game will soon head outdoors – if it hasn’t already – with street hockey taking over roads from coast to coast to coast in an annual Canadian hockey tradition.

But for William Calverley and Jason Pineo, their games won’t be stopped by someone yelling “Car!”

The North York Rangers teammates, who are competing for a national championship this week at the 2016 TELUS Cup, will take their talents onto the international stage for a second time this summer, competing for Canada’s under-18 team at the World Ball Hockey Federation Junior World Championships.

They’ll have a few months to recover from a long playoff run with the Rangers, and the thrill of going for gold in Quispamsis, N.B., before the ball drops June 26 in Prague, Czech Republic.

“I’m very excited for the worlds,” Calverley says. “I heard Prague is one of the nicest places in the world, so I’m really looking forward to being out there and seeing what it’s all about.”

Ball hockey teammates since they were 10 years old, the duo are no strangers to the international game, with a WBHF world title already in their possession; they were part of Canada’s U18 contingent two years ago as 15-year-olds, helping win a gold medal at the most recent worlds in Budapest, Hungary.

“It’s our second time around, and we’ll be looking to repeat,” Calverley says.

The road to Team Canada started innocently enough; Calverley and Pineo were scouted with their North York Lynx club team at the Ontario provincial championship in 2013, and invited to a Team Canada camp that summer.

The rest is history.

The ball hockey season is short, running from May to July, so it never overlaps with the on-ice season, and although Calverley and Pineo can rely on their ice hockey skills most of the time, there are a few ball-specific nuances.

“The major adjustment you have to make is that unlike in [ice] hockey you can’t just glide back,” Pineo says. “Obviously you’re always running, so I think that’s where it kind of separates a lot of teams. Conditioning is really big.

“In ball hockey there’s also a rule called the ‘floating blue-line,’ which means that once you enter the offensive zone, the blue-line becomes the red line. So you use your defencemen a lot more because there’s that much more room.”

Rule differences aside, their trip to Canada’s National Midget Championship with the Rangers has given Calverley and Pineo a unique opportunity to get ready for worlds, and both know the TELUS Cup experience will serve them well in Prague.

“I’m looking to work on my leadership [this week],” Calverley, the North York captain, says. “What we saw in the last worlds we went to, and that we’ll see again this week, is what it’s like to compete against top talent and knowing what it takes to win.

“I want to play in different situations at the TELUS Cup, so that I’m not as nervous when I wear the red and white.”

For his longtime friend, who also wears a letter on his jersey for the Central Region champions, the TELUS Cup is a place to learn valuable lessons about playing in a tournament like the one they’ll be thrust into in a few months.

“Going into [the TELUS Cup], just like in the worlds, you don’t really know who you’re playing because you’ve never faced them before,” Pineo says. “You might hear some stuff about the other teams, but you really don’t know what to expect. You can really just worry about your own team and what you can do, and do the best you can.”

So the next few months are a two-step process; the immediate goal is to become the second consecutive Ontario team to win the TELUS Cup, followed by a second world championship gold.

Seems easy enough, right? Especially with a little bit of confidence.

“My expectations for the worlds are pretty much the same as this week,” Pineo says of earning a pair of gold medals. “The main thing is just to have that winning mentality.”

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