Nelson, BC - When Evan Zych (pronounced ZICK) and Michael Budd lace up on game day for Canada East at the
2007 World Junior A Challenge, it’s like old times. Literally.
Zych and Budd are minor hockey buddies, dating back to Atom hockey and their time playing with the
Burlington Eagles – and this week, they are lining up against Russia, Germany, Belarus and USA at the World
Junior A Challenge.
A far cry from minor hockey games against local rivals such as the Ancaster Flyers and the Milton
“I checked the roster the day it was announced, I was checking for players that play in my division,” said
Zych, an offensive defenceman with the OPJHL’s Georgetown Raiders. “I didn’t expect to see someone that I was
good friends with. As soon as I saw his name, I was just ‘wow, this is incredible for both us’. Two guys who
played minor hockey together getting to put the Team Canada jersey on. It’s just the ultimate.”
The two OPJHL rivals are getting another chance to line up on the same side this week in Trail and Nelson,
BC. Budd, a high-scoring forward with the Burlington Cougars, was just as excited when the roster was
“As soon as the roster was named, I was so happy for him. Getting to play on the same team again. It’s
just unbelievable for two guys who played together when we were young. And we hung out together all the time
off the ice too.”
Budd was born in Montclair, New Jersey but arrived in Burlington at the age of ten and found his way onto
the Burlington Eagles squad, where one of his new teammates was Zych, a native of Kilbride, Ontario. They
would play together right through minor midget.
BACK IN TOURNAMENT MODE AGAIN
The stage is certainly quite different at the World Junior A Challenge, but it brings the two friends back
in tournament mode, just like the ones that they played in back in minor hockey.
“The Golden Horseshoe Tournament in Burlington was a big tournament in our area,” noted Zych. “In the
hotel ... hanging out with your buddies ... exactly the same thing here. Guys playing pranks on each other
and that. It’s like you’re 12 years old again”
“It’s a lot more serious here obviously,” added Budd. “You can’t be fooling around as much. But we do have
a lot of fun.”
Back as teammates, they have had some moments to remember, moments that remind them of their humble
“When we were playing the Russians (in an exhibition game) and Mike scored the first goal, he went down
the wing and went short side. I had to look twice,” said Zych. “Is that Mike that just scored a goal against
the Russians? In a packed house? In a Team Canada jersey? It was kind of surreal.”
Budd has his own moment that brought him back in time. “We haven’t played with each other for a couple
years so whenever I hear on the bench ‘Zych, you’re up’, it was really neat. It’s great to be playing
Budd, Zych and their Canada East teammates are back in action on Wednesday day, in a battle for first
place in Group B, as they face the U.S.
NOTE – Both players mentioned Jeff Lyons as a minor hockey who had a big impact on both of them.
Evan Zych: “He coached us for pretty much all those years in minor (hockey) and taught us everything we
know. The basics, the fundamentals. Mike and I know what he did for us. We can’t deny the impact that he has
had on us.”
Michael Budd: “He (Jeff Lyons) really picked on me. He pushed me and always thought that I could do
better. And he was right. .. If he hadn’t given me as much attention, I don’t know if I would have pushed
myself as hard. He definitely made a huge difference.”