Article Courtesy of Steinbachonline.com
Paul Dyck made his way down the escalator at the airport to the waiting arms of his family who proudly smiled and held up signs welcoming him home from his long trip across Canada, which ended with a gold medal hanging from his neck.
Dyck was an assistant coach on Team Canada West for the Junior A Challenge. “It was really a special moment.” Dyck said with a smile. “One that’s maybe sunk in over the last few days but having the opportunity to represent your country and playing against the power houses or the traditional rivals of Canada, the American’s and Russia was very memorable.”
Canada West was made up of the top players from across the Western provinces including two Manitoba Junior Hockey League players and Dyck talked about how watching the team come together in a short period of time was something very special. “The way the group game together over two and a half weeks was pretty cool. A lot of the players didn’t know each other prior to and they left with a sort of Band of Brothers (mentality) and I think the staff felt the same way. To be successful in a short term competition, you need that bonding to take place fairly quickly where you end up trusting each other and getting to know each other as much as possible.”
A strong group of players were brought in with gold in mind and right from the start, Dyck knew this team could go all the way. “We liked the way the guys were coming together at the camp. In our exhibition game, we only played one exhibition game and we played the Russians who were one of the favourites coming in to the event and we beat them 6-1. We knew it was just exhibition and there was a lot of hockey to be played, but we really felt at that moment we have a legitimate opportunity to bring home the gold.”
Canada West was slotted into Group B along with fellow power house USA and young, up and coming Czech Republic. Canada West would down the Czech Republic 7-3 and then edge the United States in a 3-2 thriller before meeting Canada East in the semi-final. In a high scoring, back and forth affair, it was Canada West that prevailed 8-5 punching their ticket to the finals.
All that stood between Canada West and gold was the Russians.
The Russians were a very different team then they showed in the exhibition game that was a blow out. Mikhail Berdin, the Russian goaltender and Matthew Murray for Canada West who plays for the AJHL Spruce Grove Saints, put on a goaltending display that would have NHL goalies on the edge of their seats. The teams battled hard and through 40 minutes of play, no one had found the back of the net. Early in the third period, it was Canada West taking a misplayed puck in the Russian end and finding the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. That lead would hold up till the three minute mark when Canada West looked the seal it off a scramble in front, rippling the twine for a 2-0 lead.
The resilient Russians pushed back and cut the lead in half with 30 seconds to play but that’s as close as they could get. Canada West would be awarded the gold medal at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
The gold medal will be hung up with the other awards and trophies that Dyck has accumulated over his years in the game. It will be a story to tell over the Christmas season and a memory that will last a life time.
Dyck has since come back to Steinbach and is getting ready for some much deserved rest and relaxation with his family.