CALGARY -- How important was it for the Canadian National Junior Team to win its final game of the 2012 World Junior Championship on Thursday and garner a bronze medal in the process?
Just ask Team Canada defenseman and Boston Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton.
After being struck squarely on the right ankle after a shot by Finland's Miro Aaltonen with less than eight minutes remaining in the first period and his team holding a 1-0 lead, Hamilton immediately went to one knee -- much to the dismay of the Canadian fans in attendance at Scotiabank Saddledome.
He didn't let an aching ankle keep him off the ice, not even for a shift.
"It hurt for that shift but I was fine for the next shift," Hamilton said. "I think there would have to be a lot to take me away from that game. I think basically a broken foot or something like that. So long as the trainers didn't say anything, I'd definitely be playing."
Hamilton skated gingerly back to the bench and flexed his ankle a few times before hopping onto the ice with his regular partner, Brandon Gormley, on his very next shift.
"I think it's just like any blocked shot; obviously it stings a bit and you put pressure on it, but to be honest, all I was thinking was 'Don't get scored on right here and get off the ice,' " Hamilton said. "It's a little sore right now, but it's just like any other play or any other shot … you got to bounce back from it."
The 18-year-old Toronto native was determined to finish a game he knew meant everything to his team and his country. Add to that the fact he was determined to finish the final game of the tournament with his older brother, Freddie, who earned a spot on the club at forward.
The Hamilton brothers, teammates on the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League, were the first brother act to star at the WJC for Canada in 30 years -- the last was Randy and Mike Moller in 1982.
"Stuff like that has happened throughout our whole careers," Freddie Hamilton said. "We've watched each other take bumps like that, so we really don't worry that much anymore. We just know each other will keep on playing. I had no doubt he would continue playing."
Dougie Hamilton, who skated alongside Gormley much of the tournament, produced two power-play goals, six points and a plus-7 rating in six games. He notched an assist in Thursday's 4-0 victory that gave Canada the bronze.
Dougie Hamilton entered the tournament having produced 12 goals and 45 points in 30 games with Niagara this season. He wore his bronze medal proudly as he spoke to the media during his post-game talk and said he'll never forget the WJC experience and having the opportunity to play alongside his brother.
"It was truly special … that's the word I've used the most," he said. "It was a great journey and the memories, looking back on it, were definitely some of the most exciting times of my life. To be able to do it with my brother, teammates and guys from all around Canada that you've seen growing up and played against and make friendships is something I'll cherish."
Freddie, an alternate captain in Niagara this season, finished the tournament with a goal, seven points and a plus-6 rating. He has 15 goals and 43 points in 31 games with the IceDogs this season.
Freddie, a fifth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2010, was obviously proud to be given the opportunity to play with his younger brother.
"During his minor hockey days, he was small for his age," Freddie Hamilton said. "He had to grow up and I was already big at that age. He was small, but had all the talent, skill and smarts, but he finally grew and I'm just so proud with how far he's gone. I'm so pride watching him do so well."
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