STOCKHOLM – Team Canada is blessed with an abundance of skilled skaters whose talents are in display every game at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. But what is a big part of any teams on-ice success is the role players and character players who do the little things that lead to wins and, as the tournament progresses, a medal. Dallas Stars defenceman Brenden Dillon may be one of those players.
In a long road to the NHL and now on the international stage, Dillon has paid his dues in earning the right to represent Team Canada. He’s averaged almost 17 minutes of ice per game and is +2. Dillon’s first-ever World Championship goal came in the third period against Slovenia to tie the game and send it into overtime where Canada would prevail.
"It was nice to score, personally and for the team,” said Dillon in recounting the goal. “For us it was a big goal to tie it up in regulation. For me to score wearing the Team Canada jersey is very special. This is my first one and pretty awesome.”
For a team that has consistently played with the lead and controlling the action, Canada had to claw its way back for the win.
“A little bit of adversity is important,” said Dillon. “You don’t want things to go too easy. Every game has been a tough game. Every team gets amped up to play Team Canada so we have to be careful and play our game.”
‘Playing their game’ means coming together quickly and finding chemistry along the way. Canada has had to do this moreso than most teams, particularly during this shortened NHL season.
“When you come over in two days you are playing games with 22 other guys that you are not too familiar with,” Dillon said of the preparation process. “Some of these teams we’re facing have been playing together for a couple of weeks or even a couple of months. That’s something they have a leg up on us as it is not easy to get that chemistry right away.”
Now Canada faces Sweden at the Globe Arena in a rematch of their May 9th encounter. Canada won that game 3-0. But this game will be far different with so much more on the line. It’s win or go home.
“It’ll be a great game and this barn will be really rocking,” Dillon said of the game and the crowd. “I’m sure and sold out. Coming in we wanted to make the quarter-finals and they were expecting the same. They have added some good players to their side and we’ve added some to our side.”
Everyone knows that Sweden added the Sedin twins to improve their offence. They will present challenges for Canada’s defence.
“The Sedins are World class players and are familiar with each other,” said Dillon. “We have to play our very same game and come out on top from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer and that’s what we are prepared to do.”
Dillon has gone from undrafted, unheralded player to a regular on the Dallas Stars defence. He acknowledges that there have been many ups and downs in getting to this point but that there have been more plusses over the past twelve months.
Dillon has not forgotten how he’s reached this level. He credits his dad and immediate family for their support, along with the many coaches over the course of his development as a player. Moreover, he’s incredibly appreciative of the Dallas Stars management for giving him a shot to play in the NHL.
“There are a lot of people who have been important and for me being in the position I find myself. If I listed them off we’d be here all day. I’ve had some very supportive people in my life. I’ve worked hard to get here and want to star here.”
So now Dillon finds himself sharing a common vision in this tournament alongside Eric Staal, Steve Stamkos and Claude Giroux. He admits it’s better playing with these talented stars rather than against them in a tournament of this magnitude.
“I definitely like having these guys on my team than playing against them,” he said. “You look up and down this roster there are all stars and guys who are quality players. That’s what happens when you play for your country, it brings out the best there is and it is a privilege and an honor to be a part of it.”