Prince George Cougars forward Troy Bourke returned to Canada on Monday night after helping Canada secure a bronze medal at the World Under-18 Championships in the Czech Republic. The draft-eligible forward from Onoway, Alberta reflected on his experiences with the voice of the Cougars, Dan O’Connor.
(Bourke’s answers are bolded)
DO: Talk first about the overall experience of the Under-18’s and what the experience meant to you?
It was amazing. Obviously we would have liked to have come back with a gold medal. But the teams there were all very good, and to bring a bronze medal home was a big accomplishment for me and the boys. It was awesome. Europe is a whole different experience, and a whole different lifestyle and I just tried to take everything in, live day-by-day. It was pretty cool.
DO: Not a bad tournament for you by any means. You play seven games, and end the tournament with seven points (all assists). Happy with the role you had with the team and your offensive output?
Yeah for sure. Obviously it would have been nice to get a few goals in there, but I think my role was mainly a setup man. I think I did a pretty good job playing with guys like Kerby Rychel (Windsor, OHL) and Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat, WHL), they can put the puck in the net. They were both 40 goal scorers in their own leagues, and my role in this tournament was to set those guys up for big goals, and I think I did a pretty good job.
DO: What were some of the specific things that allowed you three to find the chemistry that you did?
I think it was mainly our speed and our quickness in the corners. Those guys both scored over 40 goals, they know how to put the puck in the net, they know where to go on the ice to get the puck. My role was to try and be an offensive guy, and with those kinds of players it’s easy to find them on the ice and for them to score.
DO: Tell me about the leadership of (captain) Matt Dumba (Red Deer, WHL), and what the presence of a guy like that had in that locker room with that club?
He’s pretty remarkable. He’s one of my good friends off the ice and obviously on the ice he leads by example, and he leads vocally. He led the tournament in points (12), which is remarkable for a defenceman to bring that offensive spark. He brings all of the elements to a good d-man’s game, and as far as leadership goes, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever played with.
DO: What does this tournament do for your confidence moving forward, knowing that the NHL draft is looming in June?
It was huge for my confidence. I didn’t have the best year that I would have liked in Prince George offensively, but I finished the season strong. I think I brought that kind of offensive style into this tournament and it gave me a lot of confidence to play that style. I know that I can play with the best players in the world and it gives me a lot of confidence heading into the draft. I’m trying not to really worry about that because I know that anything’s possible. I might go, I might not go. But I’m not too worried about it. I just want to have fun with the experience and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
DO: Knowing that you’ve just had the chance to represent your country internationally as an 18-year-old. What does that mean to you at this stage of your life?
It was one of the most special things that I’ve ever experienced in my life. It gives me tingles to think about representing our country, and doing well bring home a bronze. Putting on the Maple Leaf is something that I’ll never forget no matter what level I get to, it’s something I will always look back on.