WINNIPEG - Connor Hellebuyck will remember the World Cup of Hockey and his Team North America teammates fondly.
"It was ridiculous how fast that team was. It was so fun to watch no matter where you were, bleachers or front row," Hellebuyck said of the exciting under-23 squad. "Just knowing that I got to play with that is a huge honour for me. I'm glad to be a part of that fast team, and to be honest I think we should still be in it. We took five minutes off and it cost us the tourney."
That five minutes happened against Russia, when North America gave up four unanswered goals and ultimately dropped a 4-3 decision. The loss would prove costly, as North America was eliminated from playoff contention with the Russian victory over Finland a couple days later.
Even though Hellebuyck only saw game action in the pre-tournament games, and served as a back up against Sweden, he learned a lot from the experience.
Video: CAMP | Connor Hellebuyck on his Wolrd Cup experience
"You always have to find something with everything you do, especially in hockey," said Hellebuyck, who along with Matt Murray and John Gibson, made up North America's goaltending trio.
"Having three goalies is tough, and it was a tough situation, but you know what? I got a lot out of it. I figured out how to handle it.
"I did what I needed to do. I stayed after practice and got my work in. I kept getting some workouts in. I felt like I came from there more prepared than I went in."
Ondrej Pavelec and the Czech Republic suffered a similar fate as North America. They won their final game over USA, but by that time, both teams knew they wouldn't make the semi final.
"It was a great experience, something new that I didn't have experience with," said Pavelec. "We didn't make the playoffs but overall I think it was great for fans. I think the fans enjoyed it as well. It's a great hockey event for sure."
Now 29-years-old, Pavelec is focused on defending his spot as the starting goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets.
"There are goalies here that want the number one spot, but if you look around the NHL, it's the same situation pretty much everywhere," he said. "That's hockey. You have 60 players here for 22 spots. It is what it is."
Video: CAMP | Ondrej Pavelec on competition between goalies
Pavelec finished last season with a .918 save percentage in 33 games last season. Hellebuyck saw his first NHL action last season, playing in 26 games, amassing a 13-11-1 record, and a 2.34 goals against average.
Hellebuyck said that experience gave him the confidence to succeed at the highest level.
"There's always competition. I'm not really looking too much into that," Hellebuyck said. "You just go do what you do, get better every day, and let the process take place."