The World Junior Hockey Championship has always been a big deal at the Barrie household in Victoria.
But none will be as big of an event as this year’s world junior will be as Tyson Barrie will not be around to watch the games from the biggest junior hockey tournament of the year.
Barrie will instead be wearing the red and white jersey of Team Canada after being named to the national squad that will go for gold in Buffalo at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
“I remember as a kid the world juniors was always something you loved to watch,” said Barrie on Wednesday, a few hours after learning he had made the cut for Team Canada. “Me and my friends would always go to my house and watch it and between periods we would go outside and play road hockey.”
This year millions of kids across Canada will be watching Barrie and the rest of Team Canada take on the world as the 19-year-old Kelowna Rockets captain will be spending Christmas away from his home and his junior team.
It’s about as good of a way for a hockey player to spend the holidays.
“For me personally, this is huge,” said Barrie, who started the season with an injury that kept him from attending the Colorado Avalanche NHL training camp. “It was a bit of a letdown to get hurt at Rockets camp and not have the chance to go to Colorado. That was my goal: To make the NHL. But when I didn’t get the opportunity my focus kind of switched to my job in Kelowna and what I had to do to make this team.”
By his own admission, what Barrie had to do was to play both ends of the rink and not take too many chances going on offense. And his inclusion on the final Canadian roster seems to prove that Team Canada officials like the package that Barrie brings to the table.
‘I think my style of play has developed over the last few years,” said Barrie. “When I came to Kelowna I was one dimensional. But I’ve worked hard with our coaches to change that into a two way guy that can shut down the opposition’s top guys.”
Where Barrie fits into the plans for the Canadian coaches is still to be determined. Next week will bring some exhibition games before the tournament begins on Boxing Day against Russia.
For at least a day however, Barrie was able to enjoy the fruits of his hard work in making a dream come true.
“I’m really excited and now I’m anxious to get the tournament going.”