Winning gold for your country is a dream of almost every young athlete.
And for two members of the Langley Rivermen, they achieved that dream on Saturday.
Brendan Budy and Angus Crookshank each scored a goal — Budy struck on a short-handed breakaway while Crookshank scored the eventual game-winner — in a 5-1 victory for Team Canada West over the United States.
The two teams were playing for gold on Saturday in Truro, N.S. at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
“It was a dream come true,” said Budy, the 17-year-old Rivermen captain and hometown Langley product. “As a kid, everyone dreams of putting the Canadian sweater on and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to win gold.
“And to do it on home soil is pretty special.”
— World Junior A Challenge (@HC_WJAC) December 16, 2017
Canada West lost their two preliminary games, falling 5-2 to the Czech Republic and 2-1 to the U.S. to finish third in Group A. But once the playoff round started, the team found its game, edging Canada East 4-3 in the quarter-finals and knocking off the Czech Republic 5-1 in the semifinals.
Crookshank — who had a goal and an assist in the gold-medal game — finished second on the team with two goals and five points in the five games while Budy potted a pair of goals.
“Surreal — I still get the chills thinking about it,” said Crookshank, an 18-year-old from North Vancouver. “You dream as a kid about winning a gold medal for Canada, especially over the U.S., that is one of the biggest rivalries.”
The experience was one neither player is likely to forget.
“Everywhere we went, people were asking for pictures and autographs,” Budy said.
Just for warm-ups, there would be 1,000 fans already in the 2,500-seat arena. The gold medal game was standing room only.
Both players were also happy to have family who flew in for the championships as Crookshank’s dad and Budy’s parents were in attendance for Saturday’s final.
Last minute flight to Halifax $xxxxx. Watching your boy score for his country in gold medal game PRICELESS 🇨🇦
— Tim Budy (@TimBudy) December 16, 2017
“It was pretty cool for him to witness that,” Crookshank said. “He knows it has been a goal of mine for a while now. He kind of choked up when he saw it.”
Budy — who is committed to Denver for his college hockey — leads the Rivermen with a dozen goals and 33 points in 30 games.
Crookshank — who is committed to North Hampshire — battled injuries to start the season, but despite missing 15 games, leads the team with 14 goals and is tied for second with 25 points in just 22 games.
Missing nearly the first month of the season was not the start Crookshank was looking for, especially with his eye on earning a spot on the Canada West squad.
“But that just gave me fuel when I came back to make this team. Everything fell into place.”
The Rivermen are coming off a 5-1 win over Chilliwack and a 3-3 tie with Surrey over the weekend and sit in first place in the BCHL’s Mainland Division with a record of 17-9-9-2. The team returns to action on Dec. 29 for a pair of games in Prince George.