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Matthew Maione can’t wait to go across the pond to play hockey.
The fourth-year UPEI Panthers defenceman and three of his teammates will play for Canada next week at the Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy.
“To wear the Maple Leaf is a great honour,” he said. “The experience is going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime (opportunity).”
The Canadian men’s hockey team is represented by a different Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) conference each Universiade. This year it will be comprised of Atlantic University Sport (AUS) players.
Maione will be joined by Panther teammates Chris DeSousa, Alex Wall and Wayne Savage. The team will be coached by UNB’s Gardiner MacDougall of Bedeque with a staff that includes Panthers coach Forbes MacPherson.
“We’ll be competing on the world stage against the best of the best representing each country,” said MacPherson. “There’s only so many times in life you get that opportunity, so it’s a pretty special occasion.”
The Canadian squad has limited knowledge of its opposition, but the goal is to return home with gold medals.
“No different than any Canadian hockey team that attends a world event, we have high expectations,” MacPherson admitted. “However, the past has indicated that it’s a very challenging event.”
The last time Canada won the championship was 2007 when the AUS represented Canada in Turin, Italy. It finished second in 2009 when the West wore the Maple Leaf and third in 2011 with Ontario representing the country.
“We’re ready for the challenge,” said Maione, a 23-year-old science student from Unionville, Ont. “We want to play against the best and show that we can play with them and beat them.”
The Canadian team was picked through two camps earlier this year. It’s a short tournament comprised of pool play and single-elimination crossover and medal games.
“We haven’t been together for very long as a team, but everybody knows what they bring to the team,” said Savage, a 26-year-old St. Thomas, Ont., native. “Everybody knows what their roles are and what they have to do, and what we have to do as a team to win.”
The team leaves from Halifax today and plays its first game Dec. 10. The medal games are set for Dec. 21.
Winter Universiade 2013
- What – A multi-sport event attracting more than 2,800 participants from 52 countries.
- Where – Trentino, Italy
- When – Dec. 10 to 21
- Canadian continent – 149 Canadians, including 107 student-athletes.
- Locals – The Canadian hockey team is made up of players from the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference. Four players from the UPEI Panthers are on the team. They are goalie Wayne Savage, forward Chris DeSousa and defencemen Alex Wall and Matthew Maione. Panthers coach Forbes MacPherson is an assistant to head coach Gardiner MacDougall, a Bedeque native.
- Setup – The 12 hockey teams are divided into three groups of four. Teams play a round robin within their group with the top two teams proceeding to quarter-finals. The playoffs are single elimination.
- Useful links
Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2013/index
Trentino 2013 website: http://www.universiadetrentino.org/en.
- Dec. 10 - Canada vs. Japan, 3 p.m.
- Dec. 13 - Canada vs. Ukraine, 3 p.m.
- Dec. 15 - Canada vs. Kazakhstan, 3 p.m.
- Dec. 17 - placement games
- Dec. 18 - Quarter-finals
- Dec. 20 - Semifinals
- Dec. 21 - medal games
* Times are Atlantic