'Are you ready?': Here’s how the three Team Canada players from Sask. found out they made the cut
SASKATOON -- Many aspects of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton will be different because of COVID-19.
Even the way the three Saskatchewan-born players found out they made the team was different.
Yorkton-born Defenceman Kaeden Korczak’s mom Tricia says she got an email from Hockey Canada letting her know that he made the team, and a Zoom call followed an hour later.
“The coach was there and he said ‘Are you ready?’ and knocked on Kaeden’s door,” she said.
“So I said to him ‘Well, you got some bad news this morning’ and so he was just looking at me on the phone and I said ‘the bad news is that you're not going to be home for Christmas.’ And he just smiled.”
Similar scenes played out for the parents of Saskatoon’s Connor Zary and Prince Albert’s Braden Schneider, the other two Saskatchewan players to make the squad.
“I tried to get a few words in, but you know what, mom was so excited and all we could hear in the background is ‘You made the team, you made the team!’ so it was exciting,” said Scott Zary.
“You ain’t coming home for Christmas,” said Kelly Schneider, recalling what he told his son Braden over FaceTime.
With no fans in the stands, these families will have to experience the tournament on television.
“I'm sure we'll all be (at home) and the family will all be wearing Team Canada jerseys or shirts,” said Zary, adding that public health order will even change household watch parties.
“It will be disappointing, but on the other hand, like Connor said, he's there for one reason, he's there to win a gold for his country, and he knows that there'll be millions of people watching these games.”
“I've been watching some of these tournaments on TV, like the gold medal rounds for 2017, 2018, 2019, I’ve just been watching them just to get a little fix of my hockey,” said Schneider.
“You see the atmosphere that's there, and it's just crazy, and you want the kids to experience that, and you know if whoever wins it, they're going to hoist a cup and there isn't going to be a sound in the place or a person in the place, and that's kind of a sad thing.”
Zary says Hockey Canada created a WhatsApp group for the all the parents of members of the team.
“Just little notes back and forth daily, so we're trying to do our best, to make the best of times during this pandemic,” he said.
“The other parents that were part of that team Canada group last year, they had just said about just sad it is, because those parents know what it was like last year with with the whole group of parents and all that,” said Korczak.
“Sitting in the same section and doing things together, and cheering together for their kids.”
Canada is looking for its second consecutive gold at the tournament. The team’s first game is against Germany on Boxing Day.