Just short of a medal
It was assumed by most being selected to play for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships was worth a medal.
Tyler Wotherspoon of Cloverdale was one of the 21 members of Team Canada to come up one position short of the podium in Ufa, Russia, falling 6-5 in overtime to the host country Saturday.
It was the first time since 1998 that Canada finished out of the medals, placing fourth at the 10-team championship tournament.
“Fourth place for Canada is unacceptable,” said Steve Spott, head coach of Canada following the loss Saturday. “Unfortunately that’s something we’re going to have to deal with and we’re all going to have to answer questions too.”
Canada had a perfect start to the tournament, winning all four round robin games to place first in their pool and earn a bye through the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. But the wheels fell off in the playoff round, with a 5-1 loss to the U.S.A. in the semifinal round before the loss to the Russians in the bronze medal match.
Canada fell behind 3-1 after just eight minutes of play, but rallied from three deficits to force overtime. But despite a 45-25 shots on goal advantage, they were knocked from the tournament podium when the Russians scored 95 seconds into extra time.
“Today was a tough game,” said Spott. “I thought our players played extremely hard, but at the end of the day when you look at the big picture, the end result is unacceptable for our country.”
Wotherspoon played in all six games for Canada, scoring one goal (in the tournament-opening 9-3 win over Germany) and adding one assist (in a 6-3 victory over Slovakia).
The 19-year-old defenceman has returned to Oregon, where he will rejoin the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. In 29 games played this season, he has three goals and 23 points. His plus-minus rating of plus-34 is second best on the team.
n Surrey’s Riley Stadel was a member of Team Pacific, which won four of five games to place fifth at the 10-team World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 in Quebec.
Stadel, a five-foot-11, 183 pound defenceman, played in all five games, earning four minor penalties.