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REMINISCING OF WJC'S PAST

Thursday, January 1st
REMINISCING OF WJC'S PAST

By: Jake Gittler

The United States and Canada faced off on Wednesday at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships (WJC). While Canada took round one by a 5-3 final, the game, which was a preliminary round matchup, brought back memories of WJC tournament’s past.

On this year’s Adirondack Flames team, there are a number of players who have represented their respective countries in previous tournaments, three of whom are Tyler Wotherspoon, Pat Sieloff, and John Ramage.

While neither of these three men were teammates at the World Junior Championships, they all put forth a similar sentiment of how special it was to have had the opportunity to play in the tournament.

In 2013, Tyler Wotherspoon was a member of Team Canada for that year’s tournament which took place in Ufa, Russia.

“It seems like such a long time ago, but it was awesome,” the Flames blue liner stated. “It was a new experience for me; my first tryout for a World Juniors that year, and I went into it open minded.”

While Canada wound up finishing in fourth place overall that year, the now 21-year-old defenseman still has fond memories of his time at the WJC, in particular playing against some of his fellow teammates from his WHL team during the game between Canada and the United States.

“I knew a couple guys on their team; my defense partner during the year was on that team. It made it a little extra special,” he said. “We had to play them twice, and obviously they got us in the more meaningful game, but it was awesome playing them, especially knowing so many of them, playing against so many of them.”

Wotherspoon’s current teammate, Pat Sieloff, also played in the 2013 WJC, but unlike Wotherspoon, he was a part of the Gold medal winning U.S. team. In the aforementioned “meaningful” game Wotherspoon mentioned, Sieloff’s Team USA defeated Wotherspoon’s Team Canada by a 5-1 final in the semi-finals en-route to their eventual victory over Sweden in the final.

“It was really special to win, and be a part of that team,” Sieloff recollected.

In that year’s tournament, the now 20-year-old defenseman registered one assist in the six games that he played in.

And then there was John Ramage, who played in two WJC tournaments in both 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Ramage was a member of the U.S. team which won its first Gold medal since 2004, and was then again a part of the U.S. team which won a Bronze medal the following year.

“The experience was unbelievable,” he said. “To get the exposure at that level, and the competition of play is great.”

In 2010, the former University of Wisconsin Badger earned the primary assist on John Carlson’s Gold medal clinching goal in the United States’ 6-5 win in overtime. When asked about the winning play, Ramage recalled the goal as if it was yesterday.

“I actually remember, it was a 3-on-1 coming down on me, and Alex Pietrangelo took a slap shot, and Jack Campbell made an unbelievable pad save, and the rebound just popped out to me,” he said. “Then we had three guys going the other way, and I just threw it up to John Carlson. He went down the left side, and ended up making an unbelievable shot low-blocker on Martin Jones, and that was it. It was pretty cool.”

The next year in 2011, Ramage also served as the Captain of the U.S. team, something he said was a really great honor.

While the three Flames teammates all had very different and unique experiences playing in the WJC, there was one thing they all agreed on, and that was the profound rivalry between the United States and their neighbor’s to the north in Canada.

In talking about just that, Ramage said that the intensity that comes along with the rivalry is “insane.” “There’s always that rivalry between bordering countries like Canada and the U.S. and it’s just insane.”

And as if the intensity isn’t always there regardless, this year’s WJC being in Canada just makes the tension that much greater; something Wotherspoon mentioned in talking about this year’s tournament, while also reminiscing about his own experience.

“I think it’s a little different this year, obviously our home turf for Canada,” he commented with a grin. “So it’s a bit of a bigger stage [this year], but it was still awesome, and obviously a time I’ll never forget.”

As this year’s WJC moves from the preliminaries into the playoff stages, the atmosphere will only continue to intensify, and regardless of whether the United States and Canada meet again down the road, many special memories are sure to be made.

John Ramage said it well. “It’s [the WJC] something that’s awesome to be a part of. It just brings out the best in every player.”

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