Nurse, Subban enjoy Canada’s Ivan Hlinka gold

By Radoslav Vavrina

Darnell Nurse - Soo Greyhounds

Photo: Soo Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse brought home a gold medal from Canada's win at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)


Team Canada did a great job at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament that was held in Břeclav, Czech Republic, and Pieštany, Slovakia. En route to their gold medal, the team won all of their games, expectedly beating Switzerland, defeating Sweden, the country with so much hockey potential, getting a tight win over Slovakia, eliminating the Czech Republic in the semifinals and crushing Finland in the final game.

To accomplish something like this, you have to be very good at both ends of the ice. So, while the forwards kept on generating points, the defense corps did really well to keep the traffic bound low into their own zone.

The defensive corps of Team Canada consisted of very talented players, with three of those defenders generating more interest in comparison to the others.

The first is one of the top-ranked Canadian defensive prospects for the upcoming draft, Josh Morrissey, who played as a universal two-way defenseman, creating chances in the offensive zone while keeping the defensive zone locked down. The other two, however, excelled just at one zone each, so we decided to interview them. We're talking about offensively-minded blueliner Jordan Subban, younger brother of Montréal's P. K. Subban, and Darnell Nurse, a tough defensive rearguard, by many compared to Chris Pronger.

Hockey's Future: So, what's the feeling of playing at such a prestigeous tournament and even winning the gold medal?

Darnell Nurse: Being a part of the Canadian national team, wearing its jersey and playing against the best players in the world in such tournaments is something I dreamed about and as the tourney goes on, I tried to soak everything up.

Jordan Subban: It's unbelievable, a great feeling and something we've all dreamed about since we were young and right now, I'm just enjoying it while I can.

HF: How do you see your own style of play?

DN: I'm a shut-down defenseman with offensive upside, so I've practiced on defense all summer.

JS: I'm more of an offensive defenseman, but on tournaments like this, I'm always trying to play a bit more defensively and doing everything to help my team win.

HF: Out of all the NHL players, who would you pick to compare yourself to?

DN: That's a tough question because you don't really want to equate myself to an NHL player, but I'd say Victor Hedman, whom I watch a lot. I'm trying to play like him and he's really gifted with the puck and has the good first pass.

JS: I don't like to compare myself to anybody, I'm just trying to play my game and help the team.

HF: What do you think you need to work on the most in the upcoming season?

DN: Before the draft, I need to work on my offensive side of the game. I worked a lot on the defense in the last year and had the opportunity to play against some of the best players in my age category. So, now I'm trying to work on my hands and being able to get some shots through.

JS: I'm still young so I'm going to work on every area of my game and obviously skating is very important, so I'm trying to work on things as much as I can and get better every year.

HF: Darnell, you are from an athletic family, but your father played football and your mother basketball. Why did you choose hockey?

DN: I actually tried to play football earlier, but I didn't really have a choice since my parents always pushed me to hockey and that's something I thank them for because it allowed me to excel at this sport and I'm glad where I am right now, because I wouldn't be that far in another sport.

HF: Jordan, you've got two older brothers, P.K. and Malcolm. Do you think it helps you to have two relatively famous hockey brothers or does it put more pressure on you?

JS: I think it helps me more than it hurts me. One plays in the NHL and the other got drafted this year in the first round and they both provide me with a lot of good advice and they both played at the international level. However, we've all got different personalities.

HF: What are the goals of your junior teams for the next season?

DN (Soo Greyhounds, OHL): Our goal will be to be a winning team and contend for the championship. Having a winning team is actually your goal at the start of every season and that's not going to change. I'm ready to get in, be a key player for my team and that's something I'm excited about.

JS (Belleville Bulls, OHL): We're going to have a good team next year so we want to make the playoffs again and hopefully get a long post-season run and seriously contend for the Memorial Cup.