Red Deer Rebels Ollie Josephson won’t soon forget his experience of representing Canada on an international stage.
The 17-year-old from Victoria, B.C. played for Canada’s National Men’s Summer U18 team at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and captured the gold medal in a 3-2 overtime win against Czechia.
He described the experience as an honour and a privilege.
“It was one of the best moments of my life. I’m going to remember it forever and I’ll always look back on it. I’ll remember how great it was,” he said.
“It was a huge honour. I mean not too many people get to play for Team Canada let alone win a gold medal. That was really exciting and we had a great group of guys.”
From July 31 to Aug. 5, Team Canada plus seven other countries traveled to Trencin, Slovakia, and Breclav, Czechia to compete in the tournament.
Canada finished the round-robin with a record of 2-0-1 and their only loss came against Finland on the first day by 9-6. They knocked out the United States 7-2 in the semi-finals before defeating Czechia on their home ice in the gold medal game.
After Czechia tied the game 2-2 late in the third period, Canada’s Malcolm Spence scored with seven seconds left in overtime to lift the Canadians to their 24th gold medal since 1991.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” he said. “It almost went to a second overtime but Spence clutched up so I was very relieved. It was awesome.”
The experience of playing for Team Canada he said was different but nothing was more unique than playing in Europe.
“The crowds there were crazy. It was nothing like here or what I’ve played in front of yet. The whole environment over there is a lot different than here,” he said.
“They had these chants and drums, and instead of booing they’d whistle. There were also flares in the stands. Just stuff like that you don’t see too often in Canada.”
Josephson was able to have most of his immediate family in the stands to support him and is glad he got to experience it with them.
He contributed three assists for three points in just five games. Overall, he was happy with how he played.
“I think everyone on the team played really well. You don’t win gold medals not playing well so I think everyone played great. Everyone bought into their roles and it was good.”
Next up for Josephson will be the Red Deer Rebels training camp that’s expected to begin at the end of August in preparation for the upcoming 2023-24 WHL season.