Gold is always the objective when any Canadian team competes in international competition and it will be no different for the boys on Canada West at this year's World Junior A Challenge as they search for a third-straight gold medal.
However, with each success the challenge grows, according to head coach Boris Rybalka, who says his squad is bound to attract a little extra attention from the teams competing at this year's event.
"Canada's number one goal is to win gold, but you know there is a big bull’s-eye on your forehead, your back, and your butt, because you've already won two. It would be no different if the Americans or the Russians had won the first two," he explains.
However, Rybalka believes he has a team that is up to the challenge. He says this year's Canada West squad may not have the star power of the two previous editions, but it has great depth and talent.
"We are going to be successful because we all want it," he states. "It's going to be a hardworking team. We've got some skill up front, some skill on defence, and we've got good size."
Canada West general manager Leonard Strandberg, together with Rybalka and assistant coaches Rylan Ferster and Dwight McMillan, have scoured Canada from British Columbia to Northwestern Ontario to put together what they hope will be a winning combination.
Rybalka doesn't have a lot of time to fashion the team into a competitive squad before they face their first test on November 2 against Belarus. He says his first job will be to bring the players down to earth.
"The excitement is there already for them. We know they will bleed red and white, and do whatever it takes to win gold for Canada, but our job as a staff is to bring them back down, because right now they are on cloud nine. We're going to bring them back down, keep them away from distractions, and let them know that there is still a task at hand," he explains.
At previous World Junior A Challenges Rybalka and his staff have come up with some special ways to help motivate the players including inspirational talks from the likes of Pat Quinn, Wayne Gretzky, and Kyle Turris. He has some similar tricks up his sleeve for this year's event, but he will wait until an opportune moment to use them.
And, they may need all the advantages that they can get. Rybalka says the competition level of the tournament continues to rise year after year as other countries make it more of a priority.
Canada West, however, can count on the support of a loud and boisterous Camrose crowd that is sure to give them home ice advantage. Rybalka says that while they enjoyed tremendous support in the previous two World Junior A Challenges, there is nothing like a Camrose crowd to get players fired up.