Golden Effort as Canada Captures the Junior U16 World Championship
with a 3-1 win over the Americans
Prague, Czech Republic - Once again, the National Ball Hockey Association of Canada (NBHAC) leads the way.
Formal street and ball hockey competition on the international stage dates back to the early 1990’s, when then OBHA President Pat McEvoy (2002 Builders Hall of Fame) helped to bring teams from Slovakia and the Czech Republic to our country for a series of exhibition games against representative clubs from Ontario. The Europeans, who thoroughly enjoyed the Canadian game and our hospitality, continued to return to participate in the infamous Can-Am Challenge Tournament in Oshawa each year thereafter. It was this competitive exchange that led to the very first World Ball Hockey Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia in 1996 where Canada captured the inaugural gold medal in our sport on the global stage.
The Ontario Ball Hockey Association was instrumental in spearheading the Men’s World Championships in 1996 and subsequently led the way in not only making the Junior World tournament a reality, but setting the standard for the competition by winning the Under-20 title in the Czech Republic in 2000.
Well, once again, the NBHAC led the way in 2016 as the Team Canada Juniors travelled to Prague, Czech Republic in June. There were no less than twenty players and administrators from the NBHAC representing our country in Europe.
In a beautifully picturesque city of Prague, the world came to see the World Ball Hockey Federation Championships to gather and crown a World Junior Ball Hockey Champion, emblematic of ball hockey supremacy in the World.
How the team came together…
The team was selected after scouting major events during 2015, from which an original list of 44 players was dwindled down to a 20 player roster in the fall of 2015. Canada’s Under 16 team was a collection of young men that traveled abroad for a tournament they will not soon forget. The boys gathered for exhibition games in Penetanguishene and Oshawa for team building and games versus U17 select teams where they could work on systems and strategies.
Upon arrival in Europe the team was faced with what would turn out to be its biggest challenge, getting their body and minds ready with the time change. The team played an exhibition game versus Plzen U17 team on day two in preparation of the tournament.
On to the round robin games…
In the teams first preliminary round game the Canadians scored early and dominated the over matched Americans. The Canadians would shake off the pre tournament jitters and jet lag to dominate the encounter with a win 7-2 win.
Game two would see the team face its first test of adversity against the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic were a strong disciplined defensive juggernaut with outstanding goaltending. The seesaw battle would eventually see the Canadians battle to a 2-0. A win by either team would more than likely send the other into two/three semi final match up.
The next day the boys arose knowing a win over Slovakia would guarantee them first place and they would not disappoint with a solid team effort and 9-1 victory.
Canada would again face Slovakia in the semi final and outcome was similar with the Red and White machine scoring early and often and prepared for the final with a 9-1 win.
The Championship Gold medal would be decided between Canada versus their historical and geographical rivals, United States of America. We looked to be the class of the tournament, but that is why they play the games and USA wanted to redeem the earlier loss on opening day. Canada built a 2-0 lead into the second period and would extend the lead to 3-0 early in the third. Team USA found new life when a fortunate goal brought them to within two. The moment was Canada’s and giving up the goal seemed to get the team refocused which continued through until the end of the game and to capture the championship 3-1.
The Canadian contingent was comprised of the following:
Scott Jacobi, General Manager, Head Coach, Nelson Lajeunesse, Assistant Coaches, Mike Porter & Stephen Dockerty, Goalies: Connor Dunford, Michael Josslin, Defence: Christopher Adlys, Nathan Balkwill, Jake Deault, Ryan Mota, Cameron Owens, Clayton Stutt, Forwards: Diego Arreola, Owen Bell, Patrick Brown, Ethan Lajeunesse, Cole Leal, Darcy Lescard, Eric Maltby, Tyson Moore, Daniel Nardi, Cole Schwindt, Jarret Singer and Robert Skolud
Canadians Nathan Balkwill and Cole Leal captured individual all start team honours. The balance of the tournament all stars were
G – Josef Nekecek (Czech Republic), D – Joe Russo (USA), F - Adam Klapka (Czech Republic), F – Jack Kendal (USA) with top scorer from USA, Ryan Peralta and Canada’s Leal, Tournament MVP.
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