The Ottawa Senators are well represented at the World Hockey Championships that began on Friday in Kosice and Brantislava, Slovakia. Another year without post-season action in the nation’s capital has opened the door for a number of Senators players to represent their country and continue playing into mid-May.
Among the most notable Senators’ at the Worlds include Jason Spezza, a two-time silver medallist for Canada, Milan Michalek for the Czech Republic, and Ryan Shannon for Team USA. All three are facing the increased pressure of playing for a hockey superpower.
Spezza, in particular, is on a mission to win gold for Team Canada after a disappointing season in Ottawa. “I’ve had personal success in tournaments before, but the gold medal has eluded me”, said Spezza in an interview with OttawaSenators.com. “I want to make sure I have a good tournament, play whatever role they want me to (play) and come back with the gold.”
Although he was not apart of the Czech Republic squad that won the gold medal at last year’s event, Michalek looks to defend the title for his country and repeat as champions. A strong performance will increase his chances of returning to a building Senators team that will see many players moved out this summer in exchange for prospects and draft picks.
Newly signed forward Stephane Da Costa continues his upward ascent by earning a spot on Team France. The 21-year old centre will benefit from the opportunity to extend his season and gain experience on the international stage. He’s come a long way on-and-off the ice after beginning the season at Merrimack College in the NCAA.
France faces a tough test to avoid the consolation round, with preliminary games against Switzerland, Canada and Belarus. They will rely heavily on former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Cristobal Huet to backstop the team to a respectable finish.
Rounding out the Senators contingent are top Swedish prospects David Rundblad and Jakob Silverberg, who are making their first appearance for the World Championship team after stints with the country’s world junior entry. Sweden opened the tournament with a deflating 5-4 shootout loss to Norway, who hadn’t beat them in over 60 years, dating back to 1950.
The Tre Kronor face a long road to goal, as they still must play the United States and Austria.
While the thought of missing the playoffs and finishing in the bottom-10 of the league leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of Senators fans, the opportunity for players to represent their country on the world stage will help them finish on a high note, despite an otherwise disappointing season.
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