Dillon Dube was part of what was arguably one of the best final games ever played at the world junior hockey championship.
In the end, the Kelowna Rockets’ forward and his Canadian teammates fell just one step short of the ultimate prize.
Dube landed back in Kelowna on Friday afternoon, the emotions still fresh from Canada’s heartbreaking 5-4 shootout loss to the Americans a night earlier in the final of the world junior championship in Montreal.
Still, in a game that could have just as easily gone the other way, Dube said the Canada’s silver medal winning team can hold its head high.
“The way it ended is tough but it happens,” Dube told the Capital News minutes after landing at the Kelowna International Airport. “It’s great that we took it that far.
“I think both teams were playing great and I think everybody in Canada is pretty proud of our team, the way we played, especially on home soil, the way we came out and battled even to get the finals.
“We did a great job and I’m very proud of everybody on the team.”
As an 18-year-old and a first-timer at Canada’s selection camp, Dube was by no means a shoo-in to make the final roster.
But with a solid camp, the Cochrane, AB native forced Team Canada’s hand and turned out to be a valuable asset throughout the tournament.
Taking a regular shift, Dube played with energy, killed penalties and finished the tournament with three assists, eight shots on goal and a plus-6 rating.
Dube, who is eligible to return with Team Canada next year, said playing in the world junior championship was the experience of a lifetime and the bonds formed with his teammates won’t soon be forgotten.
“We hope to play each other one day again, and I know we might not see some of the guys but lots of the 1998 birth-year guys are hoping to play together again next year.
“I think we really came together and were a pretty special group.”
Dube said he expects to be back in the Rockets lineup Saturday night when Kelowna plays host to the Kamloops Blazers.