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Golden Wolves

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks

You can add ‘Gold Medal’ to prospect Frankie Corrado’s list of accomplishments over the last 14 months.

In just over a calendar year, Corrado was drafted by Vancouver, signed a contract with the Canucks, played in an NHL pre-season game, played in the AHL and was nominated for the Most Outstanding Defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. On Sunday he struck gold at the 2nd annual World Junior Club Cup in Omsk, Russia, as his Sudbury Wolves defeated the United States Hockey League’s Waterloo Black Hawks 2-0 in the championship final.

The Wolves had an up-and-down round-robin that saw them thump HIFK Helsinki 9-1 in the opening game before dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to HK Riga. Corrado received a one-game suspension for a ‘knee strike’ in the 2-1 loss and was forced to watch the Wolves blowout the Denmark National U-20 team 7-2 from the stands. As for the suspension, Corrado did not necessarily agree with it, but knew he couldn’t dwell on it.

“The suspension stung,” said Corrado, from the team’s hotel in Omsk. “I didn’t agree with it but it was out of my control. I cycled the puck down low and the guy who came to hit me was facing my side, so I stepped into him and his knee caught my side thus it was called a knee strike and not kneeing.

“It was great that the Wolves won and I was happy to be back.”

Because of a scheduling quirk, Corrado and the Wolves had an extra day off in the middle of the tournament to explore the surroundings of Omsk. Oddly enough, they found a little piece of home in Russia.

“We actually found a T.G.I. Fridays here in Omsk,” laughed Corrado. “So after morning practice we went for a team meal there; it was great to get some North American food.

“We went to a mall and saw some of the stores they have here, the fashion is very different than what you see in our stores. After dinner we went to a bowling alley and arcade with the guys, it was fun.”

After suffering a 6-3 loss to powerhouse Linkopings HC in the final round-robin game, the Wolves finished in second place in Group B, and came up victorious in the semi-final with a 5-2 win over Dinamo-Shinnik-Bobruisk, which punched Corrado and the Wolves a ticket into the WJCC Championship Game.

”It was a great team effort,” said Corrado, after the win. “Everyone was focused and it felt like playoff hockey.

“We competed and got pucks deep; we also capitalized on some chances that made the difference for us.”

In the other semi-final game, the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks knocked off Linkopings HC 5-4 in a shootout, setting up a Canada versus USA championship. The neighboring countries are two of the biggest rivals in International play, but Corrado and company didn’t dwell on their star-spangled opponent.

“It was good to see two North American teams in the final, but we weren’t concerned about that, we just wanted to play a solid 60 minutes.”

It was a tight-checking championship that saw both teams trade chances, but fail to hit the back of the net through two periods. With just over 12 minutes remaining in the final frame, Wolves sniper Josh Leivo made it 1-0 on a breakaway, before Corrado sent a laser-beam wrist shot from the point that found the back of the net for his first goal of the tournament to seal the deal for the Wolves, who won 2-0, to capture the 2nd annual WJCC.

After the game, Corrado, his teammates and coaches received gold medals handed out by Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito.

“That was truly a privilege,” Corrado said. “The tournament was an unbelievable experience; I am so happy that we won the gold.”

For Corrado, it's now time to fly home and prepare for Canucks training camp, and maybe take care of a little food craving.

For anyone who follows him on twitter (@frankcorrado22) you’ve seen the occasional picture of his Nonna’s cooking, which he just went two weeks without. Sneaking jars of her legendary pasta sauce to Russia was out of the question.

“I wish! They have no sauce on their pasta here, it’s insane,” he laughed. “But I will tell you that I will be consuming a fair bit of it upon my arrival home.”

Without a doubt, Nonna’s cooking will taste even better with a gold medal hanging around his neck.

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