KANATA, ON – It's not often a Canadian Prime Minister visits a dressing room but there was Stephen Harper talking hockey with Canada's National Junior Team on Tuesday.
The P.M. took time out of his schedule in the nation’s capital to pay a visit on the eve of Canada's crucial preliminary round game against the United States at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship. The winner of Wednesday’s game gets a bye to the semifinals on Saturday, while the loser must play a quarter-final game on Friday.
The Canadian juniors were thrilled to meet the Prime Minister, talk with him and pose for pictures.
"If anything it helped us, it is not a distraction," said P.K. Subban, who keyed a three-goal third period on Tuesday night in a 5-1 over Germany. "It just goes to show you that even highly-regarded people are behind us. He has 15 million things he is doing in a day and for him to come into our dressing room before a practice was unbelievable."
John Tavares said Harper told him the country is fully behind Canada's quest for a fifth straight IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal.
"He offered us the support of the country," said Tavares. "It was a great experience and it was nice to meet the Prime Minister. He is a nice guy and I think it was good for everyone to realize how important this is for everyone in Canada and especially to him."
Harper is a huge fan of hockey and was in the stands this week to support his son, who is playing in an international Bantam tournament in Ottawa.
After the visit the Canadians hit the ice in preparation for Wednesday’s all-North American clash.
"It will be physical and the North American style of hockey will be there," said Tavares. "We just want to beat each other and it will be a good game. We are ready for the challenge."