The Canadians won the gold medal at this year's Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament held in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They truly deserved it because they played with passion, pride and will. Even their team motto says "I'm willing“ so there must have been a lot of willingness to obtain that golden piece of metal. And it wouldn't happen if it wasn't for their widespread qualities; Canada just dominated the tournament – in net, in their own zone and in the offensive zone.
And there's no wondering why Team Canada was so dominant in front of the opposing net. A true junior hockey superstar and future NHL franchise player, Halifax Mooseheads' phenom Nathan MacKinnon, was there with the team and made big plays happen at the right times. Obviously, scoring a hat trick in the final game to help his team win 4-0 is three huge plays at the right time. But there were games, especially in the group stage, when others took over the steering wheel and navigated Canada through those games. And one of those "others“ was Max Domi, son of the former NHL enforcer, Tie Domi, but the younger Domi is no goon. Both Domi and MacKinnon contributed offensively to Canada's gold medal win.
Hockey's Future spoke with Nathan MacKinnon and Max Domi at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament after their team's gold medal win.
Hockey's Future: Nathan, scoring a hat trick in such an important game, what does it feel like?
Nathan MacKinnon: It's unbelievable and then, when everybody came together and sang the national anthem, that's something I really love.
HF: Max, what's the feeling of representing Canada at such an event?
Max Domi: It's unbelievable and just like everyone here, I'm honored to play here. This tournament is the world's best of our age group. It's a lot of fun and now, we just won the gold medal.
HF: Two of your goals tonight were one-timers, Nathan. Is that the typical way you score a goal?
NM: I'm just always trying to get the puck in there. What's important is that everyone played all sixty minutes and that got us the gold.
HF: Think of your game and try to describe your playing style.
NM: I'm that kind of player that gets hard on pucks, I finish everytime I can and try to help my team as much as possible.
MD: Whatever I'm told to, I try to easily buy into, whether it's making plays or scoring goals, I'm trying to do it. Whatever we need to win, I'm the one to do it, at least that's what I try to do.
HF: Which NHL player would you compare yourself to?
MD: I'm just trying to work the hardest I can and I look up to Zach Parise, who's obviously a big leader of his team and he's not the tallest guy, he's playing with a lot of energy and a lot of skill, too, so I'm trying to match my game to his.
HF: What do you think is the thing you need to work on the most?
NM: All-round game, I'm going to try to get to the next level as soon as possible.
HF: Nathan, you're a top-rated prospect for the upcoming draft which comes with a lot of pressure. How do you deal with it?
NM: I don't think about the pressure, it's just exciting for me. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season with the Mooseheads and winning the gold medal with Hockey Canada is a great way to start it.
HF: Max, most of the hockey world has known of you thanks to your father, Tie Domi. Do you feel as if that put you under additional pressure?
MD: No, it helps me a lot, because he's been around. He played seventeen years in the NHL, so in terms of that, I'm trying to look up to him. He's always there when I need him and he's probably my biggest fan, which helps me a lot.
HF: Anyway Max, what do you do when it comes to dropping the gloves?
MD: I'm not much of a fighter and I try to put the puck in the back of the net instead. However, if I have to fight or stick up for one of my teammates, I'm gonna do it.
HF: What are the goals for you and your junior team in the next season?
NM (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL): I want to win the Memorial Cup with them. Once you get the feeling of winning a championship, you just want to do it again.
MD (London Knights, OHL): We had a tough ending last year losing the Memorial Cup in overtime. We'll try to do the same thing next year just with a different conclusion, so our goal is to win the Memorial Cup.
HF: One more question, Max. For some time, it looked like you're going to go the college way. Why did you stay in Canada after all?
MD: They're obviously both great routes, but I thought that CHL hockey would fit my playing style more so I kind of just fell on that and it worked out pretty well.