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?
Hometown: Duncan, B.C.
Minor Hockey Association: Victoria Racquet Club
1984 IIHF World Junior Championship
Statistics: 7GP 7G 6A 13P
Result: fourth place
After winning gold in 1982 and bronze in 1983, Canada went to Sweden in search of a third-consecutive medal for the first time ever. But an opening-game loss to Finland put the Canadians in a hole early, and a defeat at the hands of Czechoslovakia in their finale left them off the podium in fourth place.
The seventh-overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft the previous summer, Courtnall was in the midst of a season that would see him play 14 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and 32 with the Victoria Cougars of the WHL before joining Team Canada for the 1984 Olympic Winter Games shortly after the World Juniors ended.
The Duncan native, who wore the ‘C’, finished as Canada’s leading scorer with 13 points. Nine of those – and six of his seven goals – came in two games; Courtnall had a hat trick and two assists in a win over Switzerland before scoring another three goals and adding an assist one day later against West Germany.
What do you remember from the tournament?
“We didn’t medal, which was really disappointing. We had a couple of turning points in games, we were winning against the Soviets and then scored on our own net and ended up with a tie, and at the beginning of the tournament I think we got shocked and surprised by the Finnish team. It was disappointing because as Team Canada, you go over there as a favoured team, or with the expectation that you’ll win. Our expectations were really high on ourselves, and we didn’t come away with a medal, so we were really disappointed in that performance.”
How did you feel being named captain for that team?
“We had such great players, so I was a little bit shocked when our coach pulled me aside and told me I was going to be the captain, but I was really proud and excited to help lead the team, and tried my best throughout the tournament to live up to that choice. I wasn’t a vocal guy, but I just tried to work hard and lead by example, do the job the coaches wanted me to do and try to provide leadership on the ice and be the best player I could be, and I think I did that.”
What’s different about the World Juniors today compared to 1984?
“We probably played in front of three-to-six-thousand people, I can’t tell you exactly how many people, but they were small crowds, and now you’re filling NHL arenas. The media coverage is incredible compared to what we had. It’s really a showcase for the future stars that you’re going to see for years. It was always kind of like that, but now it’s just so much more. You get to see so many good players, and good teams and watch it on TV. It used to be that you had to be there live to see those players, and now whether you’re there or not, you’re going to get exposed to some incredible talent.”