There were 3,100 fans watching intently last Saturday at the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre as Canada West defeated Team USA 5-1 to win the gold medal in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge. After falling to 0-2 in early tournament play, Canada West battled back with Zach Rose providing brilliant goaltending. The Paradise, N.L. native was named the tournament’s MVP and all-star goaltender.
The fast, high-calibre World Junior A Challenge was well organized and completed without a hitch. The organizing committee and the more than 120 local volunteers did a tremendous job.
“This RECC is a great facility,” Larry Pleau, a St. Louis Blues scout, said. “It’s a family community facility, it’s so clean and well looked after. A number of us scouts worked out in the fitness club – I walked the track several times. What a great building for this community; people have to be proud to have something so outstanding.”
The former general manager of the NHL Blues, a Stanley Cup winner with Montreal Canadiens and a World Hockey Association star with Hartford Whalers during his playing days, complimented the tournament organizers while praising the friendliness of Truro people.
“The organizers did an absolutely great job,” Pleau said. “This was a very well run event. I talked with a lot of the seniors at games; getting to meet quite a number of new people, this all made my visit to Truro that much better. I certainly hope to get back.”
Brent Ladds is the president of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, made up of 10 junior A leagues across Canada.
“We represent these leagues and teams collective opinion nationally,” Ladds, 66, of Calgary, said. “We represent them before the NHL and before Hockey Canada. We try to coordinate ways for the whole 10 leagues to work together and improve each program.”
Ladds was very impressed by Truro and it’s people.
“This hockey tournament has been extremely well organized. If any adjustments were needed, everyone was so accommodating. People in this area have hosted other big hockey events, this was a real positive factor. This beautiful facility, the RECC, it offers so much. The bottom line – the event went tremendous.”
This was my first time meeting the former 35-year president of the
Ontario Hockey Association. He reminded me that we had both played goal for Orillia in senior hockey. I asked Brent if he was still the commissioner for Allan Cup hockey.
“Yes I am, senior hockey has been my passion. I’d love to see a rebirth of the Allan Cup in Canada.”
Ladds, a very humble man, played minor hockey in his native Noranda. He later played junior B hockey in the Montreal area. Ladds spoke of the Jed Ritcey Legacy Fund and his special friendship with the Truro native.
“Jed and I met attending hockey meetings in the 1980s. Jed was soft spoken but had a big presence physically. Jed was a very good listener and he shared his opinions in a very exceptional way. Jed was involved with hockey for the right reasons, you can see these same qualities in Dave (Jed’s son, the chairman of the recent tournament).
“The Jed Ritcey Legacy Fund is a wonderful thing. Part of the criteria will be to find individuals who reflect Jed’s outstanding commitment to community and his outstanding values.”
As play concluded, visitors from places like Quebec City, Trail, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Nashville and Fridley, Minnesota applauded the tournament’s organizational aspect.
It was definitely a gold medal effort by Truro.
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The WJAC experience was exceptional for Truro brothers Brayden and Keenan Cream.
“I was watching the USA practice,” Brayden, 12, who has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, said. “Christian Krygier came to me and said, ‘thanks for watching us warm up and wishing us luck, here is a stick for you.’ I wrote Christian on Instagram, I told him I was the kid in the wheelchair. Christian got back to me, we’re keeping in touch.”
Keenan, who worked with the ice crew during four games, got to talk to several competing players.
“I hope to play in this tournament some day,” Keenan, 9, said. “I am proud of my big cousin Dave Ritcey, he did a great job as tournament chairman.”
Brayden is involved in sledge hockey while Keenan plays atom A hockey for Truro Inglis Jewelers Bearcats.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902-673-2857.