Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts was one of seven WHL players selected to represent Canada at the U-18 Ivan Hilinka Memorial Tournament August 5-10 in Piestany, Slovakia and Breclav, Czech Republic.
“It’s an honour being one of 22 guys in the nation for our age group, it’s definitely something to be proud of…we have a goal here to win gold.” – Joe Hicketts
Hicketts first practice in Breclav came late in the evening, wrapping up at 8:30 pm Wednesday with the 9 hour time change.
“I feel fine - had a good sleep on the plane, been up all day and this practice kept me awake at the very end…”
Along with the language, playing overseas brings on a new set of challenges for the players.
“You have to get used to the beds, the meals…not a lot of guys are used to small hotel rooms so I think that’ll be a big part of getting ready for this tournament.”
Hicketts was the Royals ‘Rookie of the Year’, last season posting 24 points (6g-18a) over 67 games.
“I want to bring a defensive role, shutting down the other teams top lines. I’d also like to bring some offense and leadership role.”
Last April he played two exhibition games as an underager for Team Canada in Sochi, Russia at the 2013 IIHF Under-18 World Championships.
“It paid huge dividends, I got familiarized with the speed and size of the rink…”
He was Captain of Team Pacific for the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this past season where he registered six points (1g-5a) in five games of competition. He was also named Captain of Team Canada for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games last year where he collected five points (0g-5a) en route to a bronze medal.
“This is bringing together the top players in the world, U-17 was the top kids in BC and Alberta where now we’re combining the top kids across Canada – that makes it the biggest part for me.”
Canada’s Under-18 team will be gunning for its 6th consecutive Gold medal at the Memorial for Ivan Hlinka tournament.
“Everyone wants to come knock us down…we have to stay humble and not take our opponents lightly.”