By Darren Lum
Oct. 4 2016
Winning is never taken for granted and for Matt Duchene neither is representing his country particularly when he gets to do it for the first time on Canadian soil.
Duchene got to live out a childhood dream when he stood arm-in-arm with his Canadian teammates singing the national anthem staring at the Canadian flag. It followed the 2-1 come back win over Team Europe in the second game of the best-of-three final for the World Cup of Hockey tournament on Thursday night Sept. 29 at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in Toronto.
“When you see the flag rise and hear O’Canada after a tourney like that it’s always special. Those are the kinds of moments I dreamt about as a kid and I just try and take them in as much as possible. I feel so lucky to have been able to do that so many times and doing it on home ice made it that much better” he wrote in an email.
Only three hours away Haliburton is not far from the ACC.
Duchene appreciated this opportunity to have his family and loved ones see him play.
“It was great to have so many families and friends either in attendance or so close by. My family was able to see every game and that meant a lot to me. Knowing Haliburton was just a few hours up the road made it special too. I could feel the support big time” he said.
This tournament wasn’t without adversity for Duchene who acknowledged the challenge of joining a new team and the high-level of competition including the minor injury he sustained during the tournament’s preliminary games.
“The biggest challenge is finding your game within a new system playing with and against the best players in the world on a massive stage. It’s a daunting task and my injury definitely made it tougher but I drew on past experiences to help me feel confident. I definitely felt comfortable right from the get-go” he said.
Team Canada wasn’t without its challenges in the second game of the best-of-three final.
Although the Canadians went undefeated in pool play and led the final after winning game one they were held scoreless for most of game two by Team Europe who led 1-0 and kept the red and white in check and frustrated. With less than three minutes to go the Canadians scored the equalizer which was quickly followed up with less than a minute in the game by the eventual game-winner from the Boston Bruins Brad Marchand while shorthanded.
There were a lot of highlights for the 25-year-old from Haliburton but scoring two goals against the neighbours to the south in a preliminary game will be one Duchene will hold dear. His pair of goals led to three goals in the first period and a 4-2 win to eliminate the American rivals who were earlier shut out 3-0 by Team Europe.
“Other than winning and getting to celebrate with my teammates the U.S.A. game is a memory I will always cherish. Being able to put a couple in against our biggest rival on Canadian soil and so close to Haliburton made it unforgettable. Definitely something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my career” he said.