Jonathan Tychonick had an unbelievable experience playing in the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge – Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Oct. 30 to Nov. 5.
“It’s an honour to represent your country,” said Tychonick, a Penticton Vees blueliner who played for Team Canada White and lost the bronze medal game 6-1 to Russia. “Being there, meeting new guys, being in that professional environment, is one thing, but representing your country is another.”
Tychonick and Team Canada White went to the tournament looking to claim gold, like last year’s squad with Tychonick’s Vees teammate Griffin Mendel did. Tychonick said they fell short in the semifinal against Sweden, the eventual gold medal champs. Tychonick said the team put in a strong effort.
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Tychonick loved playing with and against the best players in his age group.
“Comparing yourself to the best of your age group in the world that are going to be high NHL draft picks some day, it’s really cool,” said the Calgary native, who collected four assists in the tournament. “They are fantastic players. I know what I have to get to now. I’ll be working everyday to try to get there.”
Among the things Tychonick took from the tournament was how to act like a professional and he learned what the Canadian way of playing is about.
“Every day I let it sink in,” he said. “I just realize that I’m playing for my country. There is nothing better in the world than playing for Team Canada and wearing that maple leaf. Putting that jersey on for the first exhibition game just knowing it’s on your chest, it’s just a cool feeling.”
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,600 NHL draft picks have played, including 13 of the last 16 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014; Connor McDavid, 2015; Auston Matthews, 2016).