By Paul Osborne, Guelph Tribune
Making Team Ontario for the 2010 World Under 17 Championships was a great accomplishment for the Guelph Storm’s Carter Sandlak. Now he will compete against the best 17-year-olds in the nation to try and make Canada’s Under 18 team that will take part in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic beginning August 10th.
“I’m not nervous right now but when I get there I’ll be a little nervous I’m sure,” admitted Sandlak. “They have invited me because I can bring a lot of energy and bang bodies and get pucks to the net. I just have to keep things simple and try my best.”
At the Under 17’s Sandlak had the game winning goal against Quebec in the round robin and an assist in Ontario’s big 6-4 win over the Russians that put them in the gold medal game (which they lost 2-1 to the U.S.). He also had 33 minutes in penalties.
“I’ll take any role they give me” said the London native. “If they want me to play on the third or fourth line as an energy guy, that would be great. It is an honour just to be asked.”
Sandlak, who’s father Jim played 549 games in the NHL and on two World Junior teams for Canada, will have his work cut out for him. Hockey Canada will take 14 forwards to the tournament – they have invited 24 to tryout.
The other bonus is that if Sandlak makes the team, it gives him a better chance of eventually playing for Canada’s Junior National team in the future. If you can show you can perform on the International stage as you move up through the ranks, it makes the next step a little easier.
“Just getting that first invite from Hockey Canada was quite an accomplishment” said Sandlak . “Playing Under 17 helps you get noticed by the (men picking the teams). People are always watching you play but I still have to go out and make the team.”
The coach for Canada will be former Storm head coach George Burnett, now the GM and coach of the Belleville Bulls. Sandlak’s Under 17 coach was Jake Grimes, Burnett’s assistant in Belleville, so Burnett will have seen Sandlak play at least twice and should have a solid scouting report from Grimes as to how he handles the pressure situations that come with the international game.
“He played tough, physical hockey at the Under 17’s and that’s what (Hockey Canada) really liked about his game” said Storm GM and coach Jason Brooks. “I know he took some penalties in the London series during the playoffs but he was pounding people (with hits) as a 16-year-old kid. When he hits you, he tries to hurt you and that is a key element for Canada at international tournaments.”
The confidence he gained from making the Under 17 team was evident when he returned to Guelph. He played on a line with Taylor Beck and Matt Sisca and his physical play made him an important part of that unit.
“Just getting the invite for the Under 18’s will help his confidence grow again” said Brooks.
By the end of the season it was easy to see that the kid was quickly becoming a man and made it hard not to wonder how difficult he will be to play against as an 18 or 19 year old when his body really develops.
For now, his goal is to climb another rung on the Hockey Canada ladder and be on a flight to the Czech Republic in a few weeks.
From the Land of Oz….The Storm’s recent 20th anniversary Alumni Weekend raised $10,000 for the Wish Fund for Children, a charity started by former NHL linesman and Guelph resident, Ron Asselstine. The fund grants "wishes" to children 19 years of age and under, who have a serious or life-threatening illness, a severe handicap, or been critically injured.