Canmore Eagle Connor Hoekstra is on Cloud 9.
The power forward is skating with Team Canada West as they face off against the world this week in pursuit of hockey gold in Langley, B.C.
“Everything is great; the Team Canada organization is treating us like royalty, from events on the ice to the events off the ice. This is a short-term competition I will remember for my entire life. It’s everything I have ever dreamed of. Throwing on the Team Canada jersey is something special and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will do whatever it takes to win a gold medal.” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra is the first Canmore Eagle to make Team Canada West, which is comprised of the best young junior A hockey players in Western Canada. He made the final cut and looks to be an energy player on the top squad. The team finished fourth last year, and will face teams from Sweden and the United States in the A division. The B division consists of Team Canada East, Russia and the Czech Republic. The gold medal game will take place on Sunday (Nov. 13) and will be broadcast on TSN.
So far, Hoekstra is fitting in well with the club, raising his game to skate with the best in the world.
“The game play is everything I thought it would be. It’s the top players in the world in this age group. It’s superb hockey and you have to be on top of your game every time you are out there, or else it could cost you a gold medal,” Hoekstra said.
This season with the Eagles, Hoekstra has 14 points in 16 games. He’s gelling well with his teammates.
“We have a great group of guys and we have gelled real well the past week. This kind of bonding will definitely help us on the ice and better our chances of winning a gold medal. These are the moments you cherish in your lifetime and will remember these guys for the rest of your life.
“The coaching staff is great, they are helping us on the ice and preparing video for us to get us ready for the games. This is what we need to be successful and we are on our way to a great tournament,” Hoekstra said.
Head coach Andrew Milne is also an assistant coach with the club.
Even though the club loses its coach and top scorer for two weeks, Eagles president Daryl Lockwood is thrilled.
“I couldn’t be happier for the both of them,” he said. “This experience of playing and coaching at this level will be nothing but positive for the Eagles franchise. When they return to Canmore, they should both be at the top of their game and that should certainly help our club down the stretch as we try to move up the standings and grab a playoff spot. We’ll be cheering them on from here.”
A total of seven AJHL players made the Team Canada West roster. Joining Hoekstra on the club are goaltender Tyler Briggs (Lloydminster), defenseman Sam Jardine (Camrose), Colton Parayko (Fort McMurray) and Rhett Holland (Okotoks), and forwards Carson Cooper (Fort McMurray), and Peter Quenneville (Sherwood Park).