The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship saw the best players under 20 years old go head to head in a tournament full of high speed, skill, energy and of course emotion. The QMJHL had a very strong showing in the annual tournament which was hosted in Montreal and Toronto. We are extremely proud of every QNation player who represented their country at the World Juniors. We got a chance to catch up with Julien Gauthier (Canada, Saint John Sea Dogs), Nico Hischier (Switzerland/ Halifax Mooseheads) and Martins Dzierkals (Latvia/ Rouyn Noranda Huskies) on their experience and journey at the World Juniors. This is the World Juniors Roundtable.
Question #1: Talk about how important it was for you to get a chance to play in the World Juniors?
Gauthier: “Playing at the World Juniors for the second year in a row was a really exciting moment for myself and my family! As a kid you want to play in the WJC and when it happens it’s a dream come true! I would like to play in this tournament every year if it was possible.”
Hischier: “I think to have the chance to represent your country at the World Juniors is something special. It makes you proud and it was so much fun to play in.”
Dzierkals: “It was a great tournament to play in. And for me it was even more special than everyone else because I played at the ACC , the Toronto Maple Leafs home rink which was an unforgettable feeling. Hopefully I will have a chance to play there again in the future.”
Question #2: How were you able to transition from playing in the QMJHL to an international tournament like this? Was it hard? easy?
Gauthier: “I think it’s much more fun to play on the international stage than junior because you have more fans from all over the world watching and you play against the best in the world. It’s going to be weird at first in terms of getting back to the old junior hockey routine.”
Hischier: “It was different of course. This tournament was a higher level than what we were used to. I think it went pretty well and with the help from your teammates everything gets better with time.”
Dzierkals: . “To adapt from the QMJHL to IIHF tournament rules wasn’t that hard. I played a couple of times in the past under IIHF rules so I kind of knew what to expect.”
Question #3: What did you learn at the World Juniors that you can take with you for your hockey career moving forward
Gauthier: “At this tournament, I learned that everybody is good on the ice and you can’t take anything for granted. You always have to go in there focussed and work hard.”
Hischier: Never giving up is a big thing I learned at the tournament. There were times when we were down a couple of times 3-0 or 2-0 and we kept fighting and we were able to tie the game and get back right in it. With our team, the chemistry was really good. We were all good friends before and had a good time.”
Dzierkals: “The tournament wasn’t the easiest for us. So I would say the thing that I can take from this tournament would be that you can’t give up no matter what. And I think that’s what we did even though we lost the tournament we fought till the end no matter what was the score.”
Question 4: How was it playing in Canada for the world juniors? A country that is so passionate about this tournament.
Gauthier: “Playing for Hockey Canada is the best thing in the world. You have the best fans come out because they love the game and their country. Everybody is cheering for you nonstop each and every game constantly! They love you and they support you until the end no matter what.”
Hischier: “It was absolutely amazing to play at the World Juniors in Canada. It was so much fun and I think I will never forget this tournament. I think Swiss Ice hockey is doing a great job and its getting better and better and we saw that at the tournament.”
Dzierkals: “It was special. I think there is a reason why Canada organizes these tournaments almost every year. I can see that they love hockey and they are passionate about this game. It’s great to see that there are a lot of fans coming to the games and cheering for their teams. There was a great atmosphere during the whole tournament and I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed themselves. For me as a player it was one of the best if not the best tournament I ever have played in.