The 2003 Viking Cup Tournament recently concluded in Camrose, Alberta Canada with Team Finland winning the goal medal, defeating Team USA 8-2. The tournament is hosted by Augustana College, and includes seven other teams from all around the world. In addition to Team USA and Team Finland, Team Norway, Team Slovakia, Team Czech, Team Swiss and Team Germany participated. Some of the top Junior Hockey talent in the world participated in front of a large group of college and pro scouts. The only real criteria is you must be under age 19 to play.
For Team USA, some of the best talent in the nation was there, most from the United States Hockey League. Of those, most notably were Paul Stastny, son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, Matt Hartman from the Sioux City Musketeers and Derek Patrosso of the Danville Wings. Waterloo Black Hawks Joe Pavelski and Mike Radja also participated in the tournament, playing for Team USA. Black Hawks Head Coach/General Manager, P.K. O’Handley was director of player personnel for the squad.
“It’s a great experience, a chance to wear the USA flag and play for their country is tremendous for them,” said O’Handley of his two stars.
Pavelski, a 6’0″, 188-pound forward from Plover, Wisconsin, who was drafted last summer by the San Jose Sharks and will head to Badger country next season, was captain of the US team.
“Joe represented not only our organization but he represented our coutnry and the USHL very well,” said O’Handley. Radja, a 6’0″, 175-pound forward from Yorkville, Illinois, has committed to the Unversity of New Hampshire, starting next season.
Both players did well for the team during the six-game, round robin tournament. Radja scored three goals to go along with five assists and Pavelski had three goals and three assists.
“Both players were very successful offensively and I hope both kids can carry that over to their play here at Waterloo for the second half of the season,” the coach said. “That’s the biggest thing I would hope they take out of it.” O’Handley also noted although Radja has not been drafted, his performance in the tournament certainly did not hurt his chances of being selected in this summer’s draft. He added, “I think it confirmed to San Jose that Joe was a solid pick.”
O’Handley was especially proud of his players, as well as for the United States Hockey League and the United States itself. “I thought we played very well. It was a good tournament,” he said. “Unfortunately, we came home with a silver medal instead of a gold medal but I thought we played very well.”