SASKATOON – Canada's Colten Teubert finally recorded his first point of the World Juniors in the 6-1 semi-final win over Switzerland. But even if he hadn't, his tournament would have been far from pointless.
The 1.90-m, 88-kg (6-4, 195-pound) stay-at-home defenceman from White Rock, British Columbia knows he isn't going to grab headlines like Regina Pats teammate and tournament goal-scoring leader Jordan Eberle. Or defence partner Ryan Ellis, who has surpassed Greg Hawgood and Carlo Colaiacovo as Canada's highest-scoring rearguard of all time (14 career World Junior points so far). Or Taylor Hall, who sparked the victory over the Swiss with two goals and is a strong candidate to go #1 overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
But the fact is that without producing D-men like Teubert, Canada wouldn't be in contention for the gold medal at this tournament year after year. Once coached by veteran NHLer Ray Ferraro, Teubert is a fan of soon-to-be four-time Olympian Chris Pronger.
If you wonder why opponents so frequently have a tough time going to the net against Canada and settle for launching shots from the perimeter, it's physical players like this #13 overall pick of the L.A. Kings (2008) who ensure that there's no space to slip by along the wall and that cutting into the middle of the ice is a perilous endeavor.
Heading into Tuesday's gold medal clash with the United States, the 19-year-old WHLer has quietly accumulated a +7 plus-minus rating, tied for third-best on Canada. He was part of the gold medal squad last year in Ottawa too. IIHF.com caught up with Teubert before the big showdown.
Can you believe you're just one win away from winning gold in the province where you play?
I think we've done the right things so far in the tournament, and we've been getting better every day. So I'm not too surprised. But we've still got one win to go.
How surprised were you to play the Swiss in the semi-finals instead of the Russians like everyone expected?
We were a little surprised. But the Swiss have a really good team this year, and they showed it in the second period. They were all over us. They outplayed Russia, and I think the Russians took them too lightly. That's how they got the win. They've got some good players, including mobile defencemen and a couple of quality young forwards.
What do you have to be aware of in terms of your opponents' tendencies in the final?
We played the Americans in the round-robin on New Year's Eve. They bring a lot of speed, chip pucks deep, and battle. We have to be aware of that. We just have to stick to our game plan and be ready to work.
Everybody talks about the concept of “home ice advantage,” but how much of an advantage has it been in practice to play here in Saskatchewan?
I think it really showed in the American game when we were down two goals. The crowd was right behind us, and we climbed back up. Hopefully the gold medal game's nice and loud too.
Last year you played on Canada's shutdown pairing with Thomas Hickey. This year, you've been asked to do some different things. How would you describe your role?
I've kept my game pretty simple and similar to last year. I try to be an opportunist. Whenever I get the chance, I kill penalties, and I stick to my game. I think I've played pretty well so far in the tournament, and I just want to keep my physical presence there.
Is it weird for you to hear cheers instead of boos in the Saskatoon Blades arena?
Yeah, it's a little weird. I'm not normally a fan favourite here, that's for sure. But I think there's lots of Saskatchewan people here, from Regina and all over Canada. They're all just cheering for Canada.
Let's talk about one of your fellow Los Angeles draft picks. Where were you and what was your reaction when you found out Drew Doughty had been named to the Canadian Olympic team?
We were watching the Olympic announcement together in the players lounge in our hotel. I'm really proud of him, and I sent him a text right away. He sent me one back and said thanks. He's going to be representing our country in one of the biggest events of the year, and I think he's got the opportunity to bring home gold for Canada.
Seeing something like that, does it give you hope that maybe if everything goes right, that could be you in 2014 or 2018?
Yeah, I think so. I think I've done well so far with Canada, trying to represent my country with pride and passion. I'm just going to keep working hard.
Being that you're from White Rock, just outside Vancouver, how excited are you about Vancouver getting the Olympics next month?
It's pretty exciting. I'll be busy with my season with the Pats, but I'll be watching, and hopefully some of my family and friends get to go see it, because it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Where do you keep the gold medal you won at the 2009 World Juniors?
I actually have two gold medals, if you include the one I won at the U18 in Russia in 2008. I just keep them in a little drawer next to my bed as a friendly reminder of what it takes to win. I also have both my rings in there. Now I'm looking for number three.
What do you need to do as a team to succeed on Tuesday?
I think we just need to make it happen. We've been a team that hasn't been able to get things going unless we're working hard and winning races to pucks. We've got to battle and be the more physical presence, and stay out of the box. I think we have a great power play. If we move our feet, I think we'll make them take penalties.