The Canadian men's university hockey team entered enemy territory and defeated the United States on their home ice to capture gold at the FISU Winter World University Games on Sunday.
Canada beat the U.S., 7-2, in the championship game in Lake Placid, N.Y., to claim top prize after going undefeated in seven games and outscoring their international opponents, 48-8, in the process.
Barrie’s Matt Brassard helped lead the way offensively from the back end. The defenceman had six points in seven games as well as a plus-10 rating.
BarrieToday spoke with Brassard, who was back in class at the University of PEI to continue his studies, but said the gold-medal win was a highlight for him.
“It was such a great moment that I truly won’t ever forget. We played so well and to be able to not just wear the national sweater but to do so wearing a gold medal is something very special,” he said.
The championship game took place at the Lake Placid Olympic Center, which is where the Miracle On Ice was also played in 1980. That famous game saw the young, upstart Americans defeat the legendary Soviet Union squad, which was made into a Disney movie starring Kurt Russell as U.S. coach Herb Brooks.
“It was so amazing to see the history there," Brassard said. "They had the original scoreboard in the front entrance that still had the final score on it. Along the boards there are the names of all the players from that U.S. team. It's very special to see.”
In the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Brassard was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the seventh round (188th overall). He then played 14 games of professional hockey with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Komets and the Wichita (Kan.) Thunder of the ECHL in 2019-20, collecting one goal and two assists, before pursuing his post-secondary education at UPEI.
The 24-year-old says he will not only work on finishing his degree, but also to help the UPEI hockey team win the Canadian national university championships in March.
“Right now, we’re second in our league and ranked fifth in Canada, so we have a good hockey team here,” Brassard said. “PEI is hosting it so we automatically have a spot, but we want to make it there on our own and get through the playoffs. We want to say we did it by ourselves and not just because we hosted it.”
Brassard’s parents, John and Liane, were on hand to watch him win the medal, which he said just added to the night.
“That was very nice to have them both there to see me play and win,” said the former Barrie Colt. “The whole experience was unforgettable.”