A Peak Performance In Prague as the U-18’s win the Championship
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 18 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 U19 select teams where they could work on systems and strategies.
Canada’s 4-0 round robin record was not easy as they came from behind in two games. Both Hungary and Slovakia were dispatched with little effort. Their most physical contest was against Team Europe, which featured many big forwards that seem to win battles along the boards and the Czech Republic who played a tough defensive system.
The game against the Team Europe seemed to take a little starch out of the Canadian side as they were very sluggish early in the semi final game versus the Czech Republic before snapping out of it in the second period en route to a 6-4 victory.
The Championship Final would be offence vs defence and it would be crucial for Canada to score early as Slovakia had a big physical defence and strong goaltending. This would not be the story in the final as Canada would score 4 first period goals and dominated.
The offensive units that the coaches had been patient with all week finally started to come together as the balls began to bulge the twine. Andrew Snowden would score two goals in the first ten minutes. The final result was a 7-2 victory for Canada over Slovakia in a game that was dominated by Canada that produced standing ovations from those in attendance throughout the contest.
Ironically, Team Canada’s performance at the World Championships was relatively unexpected because the team was in a building pattern off the 2014 win in Hungary which had a mix U16/U18 group of players.
The Team Canada administration was faced with the task of adding several new players to the team for 2014, many of whom would be their first international competition. The coaching staff did a great job in having the team peak at the right time, while the support staff were instrumental in keeping the players healthy, cool, and properly hydrated.
This back-to-back win is the first time any nation has accomplished this, and Canada remains the only multiple gold medal winner.
In the bronze medal game, Team Europe would fall behind 4-1 after two periods and stormed back to tie the game in the final minute of play and win in overtime versus Slovakia.
The Canadian contingent was comprised of the following:
GM & Head Coach, Scott Jacobi, Assistant Coach, Nicolas Tedesco, Goalies: Bradley Dobson, Jake Fleming, Defence: Curtis Anderson, Teddy Christou, Dylan Connors, Carter Forget, Mac McHugh, Casey Scanlan, Forwards: Stephen Bell, William Calverley, Philipe Chin, Tyson Gilmour, Kyle Hunter, Kyle Latter, Kelby Martin, Tyler Moser, Jason Pineo, Aidan Robitaille and Andrew Snowden
Canadians G - Jake Fleming, D- Teddy Cristou captured individual all star team honours. The balance of the tournament all stars were, D – Maros Boudis (Hungary), F – Tomas Kratky (Team Europe), Bara Patockova (Czech Republic), F – Filip Krivashi (Slovakia), Dominik Celleniuk was the top scorer and William Calverley was the Tournement MVP.
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