Playing for Team Canada
Duncan Forbes - December 11, 2013
From the moment young Canadians hit the ice for the first time, they dream of donning the red and white and representing Canada on the international stage.
They grow up with images of Jordan Eberle’s heroics at the World Juniors, Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner in Vancouver, and many more international hockey moments that have helped define our nation.
Unfortunately, this dream never comes to fruition for many young hockey players.
Luckily, for fourth-year Tigers forward Pierre-Alexandre Vandall, he will finally get the chance to make his country proud.
Vandall was named to Team Canada for the 2013 Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy. The team will be made up of AUS all-stars, and Vandall was the only Tiger named to the squad.
“It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was young, I’ve been watching Team Canada,” says Vandall. “Whether it’s the under-18s, under-20s, world juniors, or the Olympics. I’ve never had the chance to go, and now I finally do.”
This is the first time that Vandall has tried out for Team Canada in any capacity, and he will hope to make an impact on the team. At the last Universiade, the Canadians had to settle for bronze as they watched their long-time rival Russia capture gold for the second time in a row. Canada last won hockey gold at the Winter Universiade in 2007.
It’s been a hard season for Vandall, who suffered an ankle injury in mid-September and was forced to sit out for the next two months. He suited up for the last four games for the Tigers, but has not registered a point.
“When I found out I was named to the team, I quit alcohol, started eating well, worked out every day and jumped on the bike. Being in shape and being in game-shape are two very different things,” explains Vandall.
It has been a quick adjustment period for Vandall and the rest of the squad, who flew into Italy on December 7. The team is made up of players that are used to playing against each other, not with each other. Vandall has only met his head coach (UNB’s Gardiner MacDougall) once.
Vandall hopes to be one of the top-six forwards for Canada, and helped his cause by scoring a goal in Canada’s 12-1 victory over Japan on December 10.
“I’m an offensive guy,” added Vandall. “My goal is to contribute and be an effective guy there, and not just another guy on the team.”
Vandall and the rest of Team Canada will look to build on their success when they take on Ukraine on December 13 and Kazakhstan on December 15, before heading into playoffs.
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