With the IIHF World Junior Championship back in British Columbia for the first time in 13 years and B.C. Hockey celebrating its 100th anniversary, we asked the question … what are the best performances by B.C. natives in World Juniors history?
NO. 8 – SCOTT NIEDERMAYER
Hometown: Cranbrook, B.C.
Minor Hockey Association: Cranbrook MHA
1991 IIHF World Junior Championship
Statistics: 7GP 0G 0A 0P
Result: gold medal
1992 IIHF World Junior Championship
Statistics: 7GP 0G 0A 0P
Result: sixth place
The 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship is widely considered the start of the ‘modern’ era of the tournament, with TSN holding the broadcast rights for the first time and John Slaney scoring a late goal to win a home-ice gold in Saskatoon and kick start Canada’s love affair with the World Juniors.
The youngest member of Team Canada, a 17-year-old Niedermayer played a supporting role on the Prairies and didn’t find the scoresheet. But he was back the following season as a leader on the blue-line as the Canadians searched for back-to-back gold medals for the first time.
Niedermayer was as advertised in Germany, earning a place on the tournament all-star team despite failing to record a point, although the individual accolade was not accompanied by team success – the Canadians finished sixth, their lowest result since 1981.
What are your memories of the 1991 World Juniors?
“I went to the tryouts without any expectations any which way; just getting the opportunity to represent Canada on a big stage like that was a huge thrill. I think every kid thinks about it and dreams about it watching a World Juniors or an Olympics or a world championship or a Canada Cup, it’s a goal every player would love to be able to accomplish. To realize that, and to accomplish it on home ice where you could see all the flags waving in the stands and feel the enthusiasm that people had for us to try and do well made me want to do it as many times as possible. And luckily, I got those chances throughout my career.”
What do you remember about the final game against the Soviet Union in Saskatoon?
“The atmosphere in the building was amazing. The fact that it came down to the last game meant it sort of was a gold medal game. The rink was packed; there were flags and jerseys, and red and white everywhere you looked – it was amazing. At the time we could dress 22 players, so I was dressed for the game, but I was sort of the seventh defenceman. To be honest, I don’t know if I got on the ice in that game or not. And even if I did, it wasn’t much. But whether I got out on the ice or not, just being there in that environment was one of my best memories as a hockey player.”
How did the experience differ from 1991 to 1992?
“I had two quite different experiences. The first one was in Saskatoon, and I was fairly young for the team, so I was pretty excited just to be part of that group. In some of the games I didn’t play a lot, but it was still a big thrill to be part of the team and then to go on and have the team win the gold medal that year in front of the home fans was a huge thrill. I was young and naïve, and probably just had a big smile on my face the whole time I was there, from tryouts all the way through winning the gold medal at the end. The following year in Germany, we had, as most Canadian teams do, lofty expectations and we definitely didn’t meet them that year. So it was very, very different. Between the two, I got to experience the thrill of a gold medal, and then I got to experience the frustration and disappointment in coming up well short of what was expected.”