Trio of Raiders bring home the silver

Andrew Schopp
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Prince Albert Raiders centre Matteo Gennaro skating in a Sept. 21 tilt against the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre. Gennaro took home a silver medal in the World U-17 Challenge tournament in Sydney, N.S. and was the leading scorer for Team Pacific, tallying four goals and three assisists. Herald photo by Perry Bergson

A trio of Prince Albert Raiders returned from their first taste of international action on Saturday with a silver medal around their necks.

Raiders forward Matteo Gennaro, defenceman Brendan Guhle and backstop Nick McBride all represented Team Pacific at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sydney, N.S., taking home the silver after falling to the U.S. team 4-0 in the tournament final. 

The St. Albert, Alta., native Gennaro fared well in his first international experience, representing players hailing from British Columbia and Alberta. Gennaro led his team in scoring with four goals and three assists, good enough for 10th overall in the tournament.

“I thought I played well,” Gennaro said, adding he felt he handled the pressure of playing on the world stage. “In that type of tournament it is really intense and everyone is playing their best with a lot of pressure to play well, I thought I lived up to those expectations.”

It certainly made it easier for Gennaro to adjust to the international game having his Raiders buddies Guhle and McBride on the team with him.

“It was fun to be a part of that group and to have a couple of my teammates there with me,” Gennaro said of Guhle  and McBride.

Guhle, a native of Sherwood Park, Alta., posted a pair of assists in the tournament and McBride, of Maple Ridge, B.C., stopped 18 of 22 shots in the team’s only loss in the group stage, falling 4-3 to Quebec.

After the initial loss to Quebec, Team Pacfic was lights out, getting past Team West, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia before meeting the U.S. in the gold medal game on Jan. 4.

Gennaro said a series of lapses early in the final game lead to Pacific’s downfall.

“They are very structured,” Gennaro said of the U.S. who finished the tournament undefeated. “They work really hard, are very systematic. There were a couple mental breakdowns early (in the final) where they scored three goals and it was hard for us to come back.” 

Noting that the European teams appeared to be more accustomed to the international game and its large ice surface, Gennaro said with his WHL experience, he was able to keep up easily.

“It very high paced,” he said of international play, “I don’t think it’s as high paced as the WHL though.”

Gennaro added that the larger ice surface creates a very different game, especially on the power play, where it is significantly harder to defend in your own zone.

The differences in play aside, Gennaro was thrilled to be a part of the tournament.

“It was a really good experience,” he said. “Our team was really good and we had a lot of success.” 

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