World Juniors experience a memorable one for Guhle

Photo Courtesy of Hockey Canada Kaiden Guhle celebrates after scoring a first period goal for Canada against Germany on Boxing Day.

While the final outcome wasn’t what he was hoping for, the chance to compete at the 2021 World Juniors for Team Canada is one that Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Kaiden Guhle will remember for years to come.

“It’s a dream come true and a real honour to have the chance to represent your country,” Guhle said from his home in Sherwood Park, Alta. on Friday evening.

“The entire experience was fun and that’s something that I think was great to go through at my age (18).”

The only drawback for Guhle and his teammates was that the tournament didn’t end on a winning note as Canada was shutout 2-0 by the United States in Tuesday’s gold medal game at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

“That was a heartbreaker for sure and it’s probably the game that I’m going to remember for a long time,” Guhle said.

“That losing feeling is something that I’m going to keep in the back of my mind, especially if I’m lucky enough to make the team again next year.”

Guhle helped to get Canada’s offence rolling on Boxing Day as he scored the opening goal in a 16-2 romp over Germany in their round-robin opener.

He also found the back of the net in a 10-0 victory over Switzerland and recorded an assist on Connor McMichael’s empty-net goal in a 3-0 quarter-final triumph over the Czech Republic.

“To be honest, I didn’t really go into the tournament expecting to put up a ton of points or even score a goal,” Guhle said. “I just went into the rink trying to play my role and keep things simple, but it was nice to get on the board a couple of times and help the team wins some games.

“I felt like my puck movement, which is something that I had been working on quite a lot during the summer, was pretty good as I was finding an option quickly and making a good first pass. In a short-term competition like the World Juniors, you don’t have much room to make a mistake, so if something wasn’t there I wasn’t going try and force it.”

The Montreal Canadiens prospect spent the majority of the tournament paired up with Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Justin Barron, who was a first round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in October.

“I got the chance to play against and watch Justin when we went to the Memorial Cup in Halifax back in 2019 and he was one of the better players on the ice, even as a younger guy,” Guhle said.

“He’s a very easy player to play with. He skates well, he’s good defensively, he’s physical and he talks loud out on the ice.”

While the status of the WHL season remains up in the air, Guhle will be back on the ice this week as he’ll be taking part in training camp for the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

“To play in the World Juniors and get back into the mentality of playing in games is a big help for me going into that camp with Laval and hopefully when I come back to Prince Albert, especially with how awkward this year has been,” Guhle said.

“I think another thing that will help me was the pace of play at the World Juniors, which is pretty similar to what you see in the WHL. Every player at the tournament is so good and they are all representing their country, so there’s that little bit of extra motivation when everyone is out on the ice.”