It was an unforgettable experience.
Hitmen forward Sean Tschigerl is back in the Stampede City after spending the last two weeks at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge with one of the four Canadian teams at the tournament with Team Canada Black.
The 16-year-old got his first taste of the international stage and loved every moment of it.
“Putting on the Canadian jersey is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he said. “It was a lot of fun playing against guys from all over the world and the other Canadian teams. I made a lot of new friends from Ontario and Quebec and even tried to learn a little bit of French. I’m not very good at it but it’s all about progress.
“I got to keep my jersey and I’m proud to hang that up on my wall.”
It was a quick turnaround for Tschigerl as he skated in the Prairie Classic in Regina one day, traveled to Medicine Hat the next, and finally arrived in Swift Current to get the tournament underway.
But before things got started, the Edmonton product was recognized for his commitment by being named an alternate captain for his team.
“Seeing that ‘A’ stitched on was unbelievable,” he said. “It was a big responsibility but one I took a lot pride in. The important thing was to not put all the weight on my shoulders and our team was awesome in supporting each other. The best way to lead is by example and I did my best in doing that each day.
“You can’t leave anything out there but also have to enjoy the moment. It was 12 days I was gone but it flew by. I tried to soak it all in and most importantly, have fun.”
The biggest adjustment to any tournament that brings players from across the country is without question building up team chemistry.
Different play-styles, new teammates, it’s a lot to get used to in such a short period of time.
“There were a lot of team builders for us to open up to everyone and try new things,” Tschigerl said. “We did a lot of public speaking to the group and activities to bond off the ice. Each day we spent the whole day together, from the moment we got up to when it was time for bed.
“Time spent at the rink was the best part in getting to know everyone. Playing sewer ball, team stretches and warm-ups that is when you get to know them the best and one of my favourite moments of it all.”
In five games played, Tschigerl finished the tourney with two points (1G, 1A) as Canada Black finished the round robin a perfect 3-0, before falling in the quarter-finals.
They may have not gotten where they wanted, but the experience was invaluable.
“There’s a lot to take away from the tournament, primarily just the intensity of playing on a world stage,” he said. “We played with fire and won some tight battles, and at the end of the day we gave it our all.
“I hope that this will help catapult me to new heights and have the opportunity to play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup next year.”