Hunter brothers aim for Canadian gold at world juniors
LONDON, ONT. -- The Hunter brothers are bringing their brand of hockey to the world stage.
"We like skill and lots of will," says Dale Hunter, head coach of Canada's world junior team.
Dale has finally achieved his goal of coaching Canada's national junior squad, and along with his brother Mark, has assembled a team they think can bring home a gold medal.
"We're a skilled team, and we're a hard working team too," Dale told reporters during the training camp last week.
"To play a fast game, we have good skill and speed and we're going to have to play on top of the puck all the time."
When Mark was handed the reins on the management side, he didn't have to look far to find who he considered the right man for the job.
"He's not an in-your-face kind of coach. He's calm, but he's a coach who gets his point through by ice time and his presence on the bench and in the dressing room," says Mark.
"There is a calmness to him and the respect behind the bench that a lot of coaches don't have."
The two also selected a pair of London Knights as part of the current 24-player roster. Liam Foudy and Connor McMichael are with the team in Austria as they prepare for exhibition play. Both have full trust in Dale to lead them.
"He's got trust in us to do what we want out there," Foudy told TSN's Mark Masters. "As long as we play good d-zone he trusts us to make offensive plays. That's what I like about him."
McMichael says Dale really wants to bring home the gold medal.
"He loves to win, and there is nothing more he wants than to win hockey games, so he's excited."
It's been 42 years since a Hunter brother has been part of Team Canada. Their older brother Dave was part of the very first tournament in 1977.
"I remember mom and dad went over, and left us here for Christmas alone," Dale chuckled.
He says the inaugural tournament used the Hamilton team and picked up four others to go over there.
"It was an honour for him, and also for mom and dad to leave the farm," Dale added.
Joining the Hunters and the players in the Czech Republic for the event are two other members of the Knights organization.
Bob Martin is the head of security and Chris Maton is the equipment manager. Johnny Gruden and Alec Regula are part of the US squad.
Meanwhile back in London, the Knights are struggling to pick up victories with their on- and off-ice leaders away.
The team has lost three straight including a 5-3 defeat to the Windsor Spitfires on Sunday.
"It's a great opportunity for them to go over there, but it's also a great opportunity for the team," says Rick Steadman, Knights assistant coach.
"We lose a couple top guys, but it gives others a chance to step up and show what they have if they haven't got those chances before. We've started slow the last few games, but if we can get off to a better start it will give us a better chance to win games."