It’s difficult to put a price on experience, but for a pair of players on
Canada’s National Junior Team, they hope to prove it’s worth its weight in
Cole Perfetti and Owen Power entered the 2022 IIHF World Junior
Championship with a unique and inspiring experience, one which could act as
a beacon for success in procuring a second gold medal in less than a
Last spring, the two teenagers helped Canada capture the 2021 IIHF World
Championship in what was a memorable and thrilling hockey encounter, not
just for how it ended in gold for Canada, but how the journey to victory
“It could have been easy to hit the panic button,” says Power, a
six-foot-six defenceman with the University of Michigan. “But we trusted
the process the whole time, stayed patient and had the confidence as a team
that we were playing good hockey.”
As a result of three straight losses to start the tournament, the Canadians
were reeling. This included setbacks to host Latvia, Germany and an
especially humbling 5-1 defeat to the United States. But what followed was
an unprecedented rally to a memorable world title.
The preliminary round culminated with Team Canada nearly running the table,
posting three wins and a shootout loss to Finland in their final four games
to earn a berth in the playoff round.
The turnaround provided a path to an epic finish that included a
quarterfinal overtime win over Russia and redemption victories against the
Americans in the semifinal and Finland in overtime in the gold medal game.
It was Canada’s 27th gold medal; it became the first country in worlds
history to win the title with four losses.
“There are a lot of lessons from that tournament,” says Perfetti, a forward
with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose. “Everyone doubted us and
considered us down and out. But the resilience we had; we believed we still
had a chance and took advantage of that.”
For Perfetti and Power, the adventure through an adverse start in the world
championship to the jubilant end-result are equally rewarding. Both
featured practical guidance in perseverance and achieving success –
especially the latter.
“I think there’s a lot to take away from a winning experience,” says
Perfetti, a 2020 first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets. “The biggest thing
is what it’s like to win. That will never get old. To be a world champion
and win gold for my country was the best feeling of my life.”
As one of only three returning players for Team Canada at the World
Juniors, the 19-year-old (he turns 20 on New Year’s Day) feels the
experience he and Power gained at the IIHF World Championship can be
transferred to a second under-20 go-round.
“Winning a gold medal comes with lots of lessons that will be applicable
here,” says Perfetti.
This is especially true since Canada’s games are being played in Edmonton
for the second year in a row.
“There’s a comfort level from having that experience and playing in the
exact same set-up from last year,” says Perfetti, who scored twice and
posted six points in seven games a year ago.
For Power, also 19, earning a roster spot on Canada’s National Junior Team
is a “dream come true” and stands as the biggest reason why the No. 1 pick
in the 2021 NHL Draft opted to attend college last fall as opposed to
joining the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s been super busy and a lot of fun,” says the Mississauga, Ont.,
native. “And it’s been great for my development to play on these different
teams and in these tournaments.”
After all, the IIHF World Championship encounter was an extremely positive
environment – for many reasons – and one the duo know they can bring to
Team Canada at the World Juniors as the nation chases it’s second gold
medal in three tournaments and possibly a third in the last five years.
And that sentiment might be even more tangible for Perfetti, who hopes to
use his previous men’s worlds and World Juniors participation to his and
As an alternate captain on Team Canada this year, the product of Whitby,
Ont., is inspired by what he witnessed last year from a former teammate and
leader in Dylan Cozens.
Cozens was not only a second-year player on last year’s Canadian entry, but
served as a co-captain. Affectionately called “The Workhorse from
Whitehorse” around hockey circles, the now Buffalo Sabres’ rookie was
virtually unstoppable last year.
He scored eight goals and 16 points in seven games and led Canada to the
gold medal game. He finished second in tournament scoring and was selected
by the attending media as one of three all-star forwards.
It was a performance that left an impression and legacy for Perfetti to try
and emulate for Canada this time around.
“He was key piece to our success,” says Perfetti. “Dylan took over and
drove our team. I’m hoping to play the same role.”
However, with an international gold medal already in his possession,
Perfetti understands it takes more than one player to deliver a
That is also part of the lesson from the world title in Latvia he hopes can
be relatable to Canada’s current quest for gold in Edmonton.
“A championship is not won from one guy’s success,” he says. “It takes a
team to be one. I want a gold medal and I’ll help this team anyway I can.
“Being one of the returning guys I know it’s going to take all of us. And
whatever role I play I want to make the biggest impact for my team.”
If winning is a positively addictive emotional, especially at the
international level, then Canada should be well equipped for Perfetti and
Power to share that experience both on and off the ice at the 2022 IIHF
World Junior Championship. And then the weight of gold could be once again
in Canada’s hands.