(Marc Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) Luka Burzan and Jett Woo are ready to take on the world.
The Moose Jaw Warriors’ 17-year-old duo are heading to Europe with Team Canada for the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, which gets underway on Monday.
This will be the fourth time that Woo has represented Canada during his young hockey career and he said he never gets old.
“It’s such a great honour, when the coaches pull you aside and tell you, it’s a great feeling and to do this again, putting on that maple leaf is a pleasure and I’m looking forward to the tournament,” said Woo, who will be playing for the national under-18 team for the second time after heading to the IIFH Under-18 World Championship after the Warriors were eliminated from the WHL Playoffs.
Woo will be a part of the Canada’s leadership group for the tournament as he was named an alternate captain on Wednesday. Saint John Sea Dogs forward Joe Veleno, who’s playing in his second Ivan Hlinka tournament, will wear the ‘C’, while Spokane Chiefs defenceman Ty Smith will also serve as an alternate.
Woo said that being a leader on this team will be easy.
“We’ve got a locker room full of leaders,” he said. “If we play like that, we’ll be great and I’m looking forward to leading, not only on the ice, but off the ice, so it’s going to be a great tournament and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
For Burzan, this will be his third time suiting up for Canada after taking part in the Youth Olympics and World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with Woo.
Burzan earned his spot on Team Canada with a stellar selection camp over the past week as he scored three goals, including two game winners, and registered four points in three scrimmages.
“I just wanted to come in here and give it all I had,” said Burzan. “I know my game and I just wanted to show the coaches what I could, and not just to make the team, but show them that I could have a big role on the team and help this team win.”
While his offensive performance allowed him to standout, Burzan said he tried to show the Hockey Canada brass his complete game throughout the camp.
“I thought I was playing a great 200-foot game, not only playing a good offensive game, but a defensive game as well, blocking shots and playing my position well. Just doing whatever it took to win,” he said.
Woo scored in the final scrimmage of the selection camp, but he made his presence felt early in the first game when he drilled Erie Otters forward Allan McShane with an open-ice hit.
“It was something little to get the nerves out,” said Woo. “It was just me trying to play my game, I wasn’t looking for anything, I was in the right position to make the hit so I did and right away got the nerves out.”
With some previous under-18 experience under his belt, Woo said he feels confident coming into this summer’s tournament.
“I learned a lot of things going up an age, those guys had a lot of experience, not only with Team Canada but also their respective teams,” said Woo. “It’s going to be the little things like staying hydrated or getting enough sleep that allow me to help the team in this tournament.”
Canada heads over to the Czech Republic for a pre-tournament game on Saturday and then they open the tournament on Monday against Russia in Slovakia.
Burzan said he’s looking forward to sharing this experience with Woo.
“It’s going to be awesome, it will be even more awesome if we get the gold and bring it back to Moose Jaw,” he said.
Woo feels that if Canada plays the Canadian way than they should be able to walk away with gold.
“We’ve got a lot of skill, hard work and leadership on this team, so if we take care of the little things and what the coaches need us to do, we’ll do great,” said Woo.
Canada has won gold 20 times over the 25 years of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.