There’s a familiar sound that comes with hockey practice, no matter the rink being used. The brittle bawls of the ice as it’s sliced and carved by the blades of a skate. The battle cries of rubber after a collision with the boards or the red piping of the goal. The shrill snap of a stick flexing, gripping, ripping the puck, catching a pass, firing a shot.
It’s no different when it’s a entire team taking the ice or just a single player tuning some aspect of their game. Such was the case for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, who was preparing for his first stint playing the game in Europe.
Barrie, along with three of his Avalanche teammates, was named to Hockey Canada’s roster for the 2015 IIHF World Championship. The chance to represent his country for the first time since he played in the 2010 World Junior Championship comes with some excitement, despite the unfamiliarity of the event.
“It’s been awhile. I’ve never played in a World Championship before so I don’t know what the atmosphere is going to be like. I’ve never played over in Europe either, so it’s kind of a new experience for me,” said Barrie. “I’ve played with a bunch of guys who are going over, so through talking to them, it made it a little more comfortable for me.”
Barrie prepared alongside Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and friend Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia Flyers) prior to leaving for the tournament, which runs May 1-17 in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic. Spending time with those who have been there before, especially his Colorado colleagues, should help him in developing some quick chemistry when the games begin.
“We have a good, young team here and we’re all pretty tight, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Barrie said. “I think if you look at the roster, we’ll be contending and they do every year. I’m really looking forward to it. I heard Prague is a great city, and I can’t wait to get over there.”
As always, Canada is an early frontrunner for a gold medal at the World Championship, and looking up and down the roster littered with superstars only solidifies what those on the team think of their chances to win out.
“I think we look real good. I think every time Canada sends a team over, it usually looks pretty good,” Barrie admitted. “This year especially, we have a lot of talent up front and some good puck moving defensemen. It’s going to be a fun mix of guys, and I’m sure we’ll be ready to go when we get over there.”
Just because the 23-year-old Avalanche defenseman is playing alongside Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers), Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks) and Jake Muzzin (Los Angeles Kings), among others, doesn’t mean that he didn't put in the work to stay in shape between the end of the season and the start of the tournament.
Barrie didn’t manage to put up 53 points (12 goals, 41 assists) in 80 games by taking it easy. So it was no surprise to see him pushing himself to the edge with his Hockey Canada teammates before leaving for Europe. That kind of effort will help him bring the best of himself to the squad.
“[I’ll] just try to get the puck to the forwards’ hands, jump up into the play and create some offense from the back end when I can,” he said of his plans for contributing to the club’s success. “Obviously when you go over and play for Canada, you have to fill whatever role they tell you to fill, so that’s what I’m looking to do.”
This will be the first time that Barrie plays for Canada head coach Todd McLellan, former bench manager of the Sharks.
“I’ve never done anything with him. I talked to Brad Stuart about him—he had him in San Jose— and he said he’s a good guy and a good coach,” said Barrie. “I’m looking forward to getting to work with him.”
For now, Barrie said he’s just excited to get a look at the larger European ice surface while he attempts to quickly adjust to McLellan’s game plan.
“I haven’t played too much on big ice, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting over there and trying it out and seeing what kind of difference it makes,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. We have a good group of guys going from here, we’re a pretty tight group, so it will be a good experience.”
Canada’s first game kicks off the competition on Friday, May 1, as the team takes on Latvia at O2 Arena at 8:15 am MDT.