London, Ont. may not be that far from Vancouver, but the adjustments that Dave Bolland has had to make during his journey are significant.
Bolland has left his familiar London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League to join his fellow Canadians in Vancouver as Team Canada looks to win back-to-back gold medals for the first time in nearly a decade.
Both on the ice and off the ice, the attention Bolland and Team Canada are generating at the World Junior Championships is a significant increase from that of his junior team. On the ice, Bolland is skating on a line with team captain Kyle Chipchura and Andrew Cogliano, a trio that is expected to produce results at both ends of the ice.
Thus far, they’ve done just that in the tournament. With a goal in each of the three games for Canada, Bolland shares the club lead for goals scored with associate captain Dustin Boyd. Thus far, he’s pleased with his play.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty well,” admitted Bolland, “I could do a little more, maybe, but let’s see how the game goes, how all these games go, and that’s how it goes. It’s my first international experience so the first game was a little shaky. The first shift was hard, just trying to get adapted to it, but once it started rolling it started to get a lot better.”
The transition from the regular season of the OHL to the round-robin style tournament appears to be a smooth one for the native of Mimico, Ont.
“The adjustment’s a little weird because you’re not playing against all the teams,” said the Knight.
Bolland also noted a differing style between that of his regular opponents in junior and the tournament.
“In the OHL it’s like a trap game,” noted the 5’11, 171lb forward, “Here you just go, and keep on going.”
Off the ice, the intense media scrutiny of Team Canada is unavoidable. With the nation hosting the tournament, external pressures are even greater. It’s a pressure that Bolland is dealing with nicely.
“I don’t really get a big huffy-huff about getting the media,” said the forward, “I don’t mind doing it, it’s not a big deal to me.”
TSN, who is broadcasting the tournament in Canada, has shown a series of profiles introducing the team, including Bolland, to their viewers. It’s something that Bolland admits paying attention to.
“When you’re flipping through the channels you see something on and we’ll watch it,” he said.
Despite some discouraging outcomes in their most recent two games, including 4-3 and 4-0 wins over Switzerland and Norway – two of the weaker teams in their pool – Bolland likes how the team is shaping up heading into their New Year’s clash against the Americans.
“Against the USA, just play like we do, play a Canadian game,” said Bolland, who joins Cam Barker, Dan Bertram, and Mike Blunden as players drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks who are playing for Canada.
The game, set to take place on New Year’s Eve, will not only feature Bolland of the Knights playing for Canada, but also Bolland’s teammate in London, Rob Schremp, who is skating for Team USA.
“Playing with him it’s awesome,” described Bolland, “He knows where you, awesome with the puck, he can do wonders with it. Playing against him, it’s going to be a competition, it’s going to be hard. I know he’s wants to win, he knows I want to win, so it’s going to come down to whoever works hardest.”
Although friends and teammates back in London, Bolland also suggested he wouldn’t hesitate to lay a good, hard check on Schremp.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Bolland with a smile.
Bolland and Schremp have been through a lot together as teammates for London, including a Memorial Cup championship on home ice. It was an experience Bolland shares with Schremp, and a season he’ll not soon forget.
“It was an awesome season,” recalled Bolland, “It was pretty much a golden season, a record breaking season. We had streaks and records that were broken and then winning the ‘Mem’ was even better.”
Although he isn’t looking past the WJC’s in Vancouver, Bolland has his eye on returning to the Memorial Cup. The tournament, held in Moncton, could feature Team Canada teammate Luc Bourdon, who is rumored to be going to the Wildcats at the conclusion of the international tournament.
“We’ll see what happens,” Bolland suggested. “I think we’re going to go for a run for it, so I think so, if we get our team going.”
For now, though, Bolland’s attention will sit squarely on the Americans. Using head coach Brent Sutter’s one game at a time mentality, Bolland is prepared to take on Schremp and Team USA, which will be Canada’s biggest test in the tournament thus far.
“We got to play hard, and hit them hard and give it to them, not let them get into their game,” he said.
Matt MacInnis contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.