World Junior Hockey Championships: Jan Mysak, the Czech dad

World Junior Hockey Championships: Jan Mysak, the Czech dad

BETTING À DAY

EDMONTON | We'll never know exactly what was said in the Czech Republic locker room before their upset win over the Americans in quarter-finals of the World Juniors. What we do know, however, is that captain Jan Mysak's speech ignited a flame that, even after the game, did not seem to have died out among his teammates. 

The Canadian prospect is the undisputed leader among the Czechs. Before Wednesday night's game, he spoke. That, we know because all the players have mentioned it. But what was said remained almost as confidential as a state secret.

“I said a lot of things,” Mysak said simply, smiling.

Defender David Spacek was probably the closest to telling the media what the captain said.

Jan Mysak during the game against the United States at the World Junior Championship on Wednesday .

“Jan is probably the best leader I have played with. In the locker room, he's the guy everyone wants to follow and he motivates everyone. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it meant that if we believe in ourselves, we will always manage to get where we want. »

« It was a very motivating speech. Everyone had fire in their eyes afterwards and we all wanted to win. He had given speeches before, but this one was special,” added goalkeeper Tomas Suchanek.

LIKE A FATHER

Unlike the other three surviving teams at World Juniors, the Czechs have a relatively young squad, with only six 19-year-old junior players [born in 2002], compared to Finland's 18 and 14 Canada and Sweden.

Mysak's contribution is therefore even more crucial internally.

“I'm not in the locker room all the time, but he's a leader. He helped the coaches make sure everything fell into place and clicked. He's a bit like a father to other players! It helps young people mature by showing them what it takes to be successful,” praised coach Radim Rulik.

THE LATVIAN LESSON

It must be admitted, few people expected the Czechs to overcome the United States in the quarter-finals. The team finished fourth in Group A after a humiliating 5-2 loss to the surprising Latvians, to conclude the preliminary round with a record of one win and three losses, including a shootout against the Finland.

“It was not a good moment when we lost to Latvia,” added Mysak. We heard bad comments and people in our country were angry. When we lose, they are furious. We wanted to pull ourselves together and show them that we have a good team. »

« If we play like we did against the United States, we have a chance to beat n 'anyone. The message is simple: if you believe in something and put in the effort, it can happen.”

A golden chance for Riley Kidney

Riley Kidney, Forward

Riley Kidney has been patient since the start of the World Juniors. His patience could be rewarded as he may very well be playing his first game since August 10.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan forward and second-round pick for the Canadiens took part in Canada's very first game, against Latvia, in which he was used as the 13th striker and used for 4 min 26&nbsp ;s. Since that time, he has watched every game from the stands.

“For sure it's hard not to play, but I've tried to stay strong the whole time. Working hard in practice and staying positive helped me a lot. It's not a situation I'm used to, but I talked a lot with my agent and he advised me to keep working hard. My real chance will be at the next tournament in Halifax so it's a good way to show what I'm capable of”, he summarized Thursday at the end of the team's training.

< strong>EXAMPLES TO FOLLOW

Now, if Ridly Greig were to be absent for a long period, Kidney will obviously have a chance to play and participate in the conquest of the gold medal with Canada.

And just because he'll be doing it in a restricted role doesn't mean he won't have the chance to make an impact. We need only think of Tyler Steenbergen's winning goals in the final in Buffalo in 2018, then that of Akil Thomas in Ostrava in 2020. 

The two hockey players had almost no seen ice time before playing hero.

“It's always in the back of my mind, knowing that I could be that player. Every time I jump on the rink, I have to work hard and give my best. Of course playing the hero would be a perfect situation, but we'll see how it goes. 

One thing is certain, in the eyes of his head coach Dave Cameron, Kidney has his place in the lineup as much as any other player in Edmonton.

“The players who are here are not here because they won a trip to Edmonton or because we drew names from a hat. They are here because they are all very good players. Until they are placed in certain situations, we do not know how they will react. So for him, it's an opportunity to demonstrate what he can do.