7:30 a.m., Jan. 8)
boy captains Team Ontario to U17 gold
By Fred Sherwin
Hill resident Eric Gudbranson proudly displays the gold medal
he won as a member of Team Ontario at the recent World Under-17
Hockey Championships. Fred Sherwin/Photo
most of the countrys attention was focused on Ottawa during
the recent World Junior Hockey Championships, another major international
tournament was taking place in B.C.
Under-17 Hockey Championships features some the best U17 players in
the world, many of whom have gone on to represent their countries
at the World Juniors. In fact, 22 of the players on Team Canada at
this years World Junior Championships, played at the World Under-17
U17 world championships included teams from Russia, the United States,
Slovakia and Finland, as well as teams from every region in the country.
champions were Team Ontario. One of the selections on the team was
Chapel Hill resident Eric Gudbranson who was picked fourth overall
at the 2008 OHL Priority Draft by the Kingston Frontenacs.
Gudbranson was thrilled to make the team, he was even more excited
when he walked into the dressing room with the rest of his teammates
for the first time and saw a C on the front of his jersey.
walked into the dressing room and our jerseys were all hanging up
in front of our stalls and mine had a C on it. It kind
of caught me off guard a little when I saw it. I felt really happy.
It gave me a sense of accomplishment, says Gudbranson, who returned
to Ottawa on Wednesday to celebrate his birthday with his family before
heading back to Kingston.
185 lb. defenceman was chosen to be the team leader by the coaching
staff and the director of hockey operations. It was only surprising
in that he hadnt had any experience in big tournaments. In fact,
he hadnt won a championship of any significance since his first
year in Novice except for the odd small tournament here and there.
With the C came additional responsibility which Gudbranson
was more than ready for.
knew I had to keep the guys in line and make sure they stayed focused
on the goal. I also wanted to make sure that they represented Ontario
well when we were out in public, says Gudbranson.
winning their one and only exhibition game against Finland on Dec.
28, Team Ontario opened the tournament with an 8-1 win over Atlantic
Canada the next day. They followed that up with three consecutive
wins over Russia, Germany and Pacific Canada to finish first in their
semi-finals they were matched up against Western Canada and ended
up winning 7-4 with Gudbranson notching a pair of power play goals.
Not only were they his first two goals of the tournament, they were
his first two goals of the season.
medal game was a rematch between Team Ontario and Team Pacific who
had downed the favoured Americans in the other semi-final.
After the first two periods Team Ontario held a slim one goal lead
thanks after Team Pacific scored late in the second period.
period was all Team Ontario as Gudbranson and the rest of his teammates
stepped up their game.
setting up the teams third goal which was scored by John McFarland,
Gudbranson put an exclamation point on the teams effort by scoring
another power play goal with 1:20 left in the game.
the whole experience he was on the ice during the last minute of the
game and kept possession of the puck as the final 10 seconds ticked
off the clock.
was complete pandemonium.
was absolutely unbelievable and the best part about was that as the
kept I got to hold the trophy first. Being able to lift a World Championship
trophy over your head, not many people get to do that, so the fact
that I was able to do it was just an amazing experience that Ill
never forget, says Gudbranson whose mother and father and younger
brother Alex got to watch the whole thing transpire from the stands.
downside about playing in the tournament was the fact that they didnt
have time to watch much of the World Junior Tournament except for
bits and pieces here and there and the odd highlight. But not to worry,
Gudbranson and several other of the players on Team Ontario are hoping
to build on their success at the tournament to earn a spot on the
national under-18 team that will be playing in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament
in the Czech Republic next August.
showing in the Hlinka Tournament would go along way to possibly making
the World Junior team, which is Gudbransons goal right now.
I just have to work my tail off and keep improving and hopefully make
the under-18 team. If I can make a good impression, hopefully Ill
be able to make the World Junior team. That would be the ultimate,
immediate focus will be on helping to turnaround the Kingston Frontenacs'
season. The team is currently in last place in the East Division having
only won eight games so far this season.
more long term, Gudbranson will be eligible for the NHL Draft in 2010
when he hopes to fulfill the dream of every young hockey player in
the country and make the NHL.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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