New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson is currently in Slovakia with Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship. It is the first time Severson is representing his country on the men's national team and on Thursday, he scored the game-tying goal against Switzerland with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock before Canada went on to win the game in overtime. NewJerseyDevils.com's Amanda Stein had a chance to speak with Damon from Slovakia following the game:
Amanda Stein: First off, congratulations on the quarterfinal win! That was a really exciting finish! With 0.4 seconds left, you tie the game up for Canada. What was that like to score your first goal of the tournament and in that fashion?
Damon Severson: It was crazy! It just seemed like we weren't going to get a goal, their goalie was playing so well. Everything was just going their way. It seemed like we couldn't get that perfect chance we wanted. I got that one-timer, Mark Stone set me up for the one-timer and the Switzerland player made a heck of a block off of his foot and after that the puck just came right back to me, luckily. I figured I had to shoot it on net as quick as possible and it was able to sneak through a few guys, it bounced off a guy and nicked their goalie and ended up bouncing in. We all just celebrated assuming it was going to be a good goal. It was pretty exciting tying it up late like that and the win in overtime was huge. We're moving on! It's exciting!
AS: There was a pretty long wait while the goal was being reviewed to make sure the puck crossed the line before the clock stuck zero. What was the wait like for you and the rest of Team Canada on the bench at that time?
DS: Originally, you get back to the bench and you're like 'well, we gave it all we had' and we know we did. You're just hoping that it counted because we realized time was winding down and we weren't sure. The coaches were getting the word from the video guys in the room saying it was a good goal. They said it was good and we had enough time [left on the clock]. Then you see the ref there… it was kind of funny, you see the ref there mouthing a little and he's taking his sweet time skating over to center ice and finally he says it's a good goal. We were having a little chuckle about that, but it wouldn't have been as funny if it didn't count. But we're just happy it did.
AS: That has to be a Top 3 goal for you, doesn't it?
DS: Yeah, it has to be. Eventually if we make it back to the Stanley Cup playoffs and there are some overtime goals and big goals scored in the future, maybe those will jump ahead but right now, that one was in the top one, two or three. As of right now, that's in my Top 3 for sure because of the timing and the stage. It was pretty cool.
AS: How much fun have you been having at the tournament and being with Team Canada?
DS: It's been a blast so far. We've been having a really good time, [Hockey Canada] has a really good family program so I have my girlfriend and my mom here in Slovakia, they've joined me. A lot of the players have their girlfriends, wives and fiancé's and parents here. It's been a cool program where you get to enjoy it with your family. A lot of our family members came up to us after the game just now in the family room for our post-game dinner and said they thought they were heading home and all ready to pack their bags and head back to Canada. But we just told them we wanted to make it interesting for them and keep them on the edge of their seat! So, we're definitely excited that we get the chance at a medal and we want to get that gold. We're looking forward to that opportunity.
AS: You've found a lot of success during the tournament and you're playing on a different type of ice-surface than you're used to. What has it been like playing on the larger European ice?
DS: It's been fun. I really enjoy it. I know at the start of this year we were over in Switzerland and played against Bern on the big ice and I thought that was great. I feel like if you're a good skater and can move the puck - there's just so much more room out there to make plays. It's a lot more skill and less body-contact, just a little bit different than the North American game which is fun. Playing on the big ice is fun but we've just got to try to embrace it for a couple more games.
AS: You've played most of the tournament with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse, what has that pairing been like for you? You're playing a ton of minutes.
DS: It's been really good. We're both puck-moving guys, and a little bit bigger. We have kind of a smaller, skilled back-end and we're, I guess, considered the shutdown pair. We try to play against the other team's top lines. We played a lot against Nico [Hischier] tonight which was fun. Playing with him and seeing him all year you kind of understand how he plays a little bit and it was a fun challenge for us. He's such a skilled player and the Switzerland top two lines were definitely up there with skilled guys no matter what league they're in. Having that opportunity to play against Nico was fun but playing with Nurse has also been fun because we're trying to shut down the other teams top lines and we feel like we're going that so far and we've got a couple more chances of shutting them down and hopefully get that gold medal around our necks.
AS: Speaking of Nico, did you have a chance to talk to him after the game?
DS: We had the handshake line, so I was able to tell him that he had a great game. We shared a 'how are you doing?' and hopefully all is well. He said it was a great game and then he wished me good luck. You feel bad for him because he's your teammate all year and you want to see him do great things in the NHL but in this tournament, we weren't friends during the game. But as soon as that final goal went in we were back to being buddies. He played a really good hockey game and he's a really good friend and a heck of a hockey player.
Severson and the rest of Team Canada will now travel from Kosice, Slovakia to Bratislava where the semi-finals and finals will be held over the weekend. Canada currently await their semi-final opponent.