Morrissey’s Musings: Josh Morrissey checks in from the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Russia
Wednesday, April 24:
Following the conclusion of our preliminary round schedule we are exactly where we want to be heading into the medal round. We won all four games and the best thing is that we've improved a little each game. From our wins over Slovakia and Germany we gained some experience and learned some vital lessons, some details about how the international game is different from ours in Canada, and some lessons regarding preparation for games.
In those wins we realized that no matter who we were playing, whether the so-called hockey powerhouses or not, we had to prepare the same way for every game and treat every shift the same. Once you get to the U18 level teams can't be taken the slightest bit lightly because everyone can play, and maybe if a few bounces go the wrong way or you run into other adversities you can wind up losing to someone that you were expected to beat. We learned also that it’s vital to play 60 minutes of hockey, because not every night can you win putting out 30 or 40 minutes of great play. The teams have skilled enough players that it only takes letting up for a shift or two, or even one play, and the puck is in your net and momentum shifts.
Probably the biggest thing we learned, though, was when we prepare properly, get a chip on our shoulder and embrace our identity, we can play with anyone. After an up and down game against Germany we were challenged by the coaching staff and we responded, coming out with two very tough, focused and intense efforts against the Swiss and Swedes. We were ready to go at the drop of the puck and played disciplined and smart throughout both games, playing 60 minutes of our hockey and completely embracing our identity. We had 23 guys buy in, from our penalty killers to our power play guys, our starting goalie to our third guy, and it felt good.
The biggest thing for our team now after finishing first in our division, outscoring our opponents 23-3, is that we don’t become too high, and remain humble heading into our quarter-final match. We have to remember what made us successful thus far: our hard-working approach to the game and commitment to our identity. We have to continue to play with grit and believe in our group of guys, no matter what adversities we face, playing as a single unit of 23.
We've had success so far and it felt great to finish first, but as coach Don Hay alluded to after our win against Sweden, we can enjoy what we accomplished so far for two hours, but not be close to satisfied, and when that two hours is up, we start preparing for our quarter-final game against the Czech Republic.
Tomorrow we continue our journey to reaching our overall goal, and in my eyes it’s pretty apparent that no one is satisfied quite yet. I can't wait for puck drop!