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
"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.