He may not have played or even dressed for the tournament but Taylor Gauthier of the PG Cougars has a silver medal.

Gauthier was good enough to make a highly skilled Canadian roster for the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton but like any highly motivated athlete, he wanted to compete at the highest level and not watch from the sidelines.

Canada was the best team at the tournament until the final. The Canadians dominated to a point that they outscored opponents 41-4 (never having trailed) prior to the 2-0 loss to the USA in the Gold Medal game.

Perhaps Canada didn’t face enough adversity in their first six games and arguably, contributed to the big loss to the hungry Americans who have a knack of rising up and playing their best against their neighbours to the north.

The win gave USA Hockey its fourth consecutive victory over Canada in a World Junior Championship final, (having earned wins in 2004, 2010, 2017, and 2021).

Gauthier has experienced many hockey highs and lows and his fair share of adversity.

At age 14 and while playing bantam in his hometown of Calgary, he was rated by many scouts the best goalie in any of the Western provinces.

Hockey Canada has thought highly of Gauthier for a number of years.

He was selected to represent his country at the Under 17 and U-18 international tournaments and had the thrill of being in the net when Canada won the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in Edmonton.

Gauthier has also battled the massive disappointment of not being picked in the NHL Draft twice, even though goalies rated lower than him (by Central Scouting) were taken.

After being one of five netminders invited to the 2020 Canadian world junior team camp, Gauthier was good enough to secure a roster spot and had the thrill of having his parents tell him he made the team.

His goal was to become the starter but that opportunity never materialized.

Devon Levi got that job and the coaches obviously made the right call as Levi was named the top goalie in the tournament.

Levi’s save percentage of .964 set a new World Juniors record among goalies, beating the previous mark of 0.961 set by Carey Price in 2007. His goals-against average of 0.75 is also a new record, and Levi previously tied Justin Pogge for the shutout record with three, which was also tied by Spencer Knight of the USA this year.

Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers was the Canadian backup. He is just 18, one year younger than “Goats” so it made sense to groom Garand for the possible starting job next year.

(Garand only played 20 minutes the entire tournament, the third period of a 16-2 blowout of Germany).

What now for Gauthier?

He is like everybody else that wears a WHL uniform, not sure when or if the season will start.

In the 2021-22 season, he could return to PG and play one final year in junior as a 20-year-old or he may land in the pros.

Gauthier has always been confident in his abilities. He knows he has the talent to make a timely, even a miraculous save with the game on the line.

Goalies often take more time to reach their full potential than a forward or defenceman.

Gauthier is driven to make it to the NHL.

I do not know if he will but he has already become battle-tested.

He has been in situations, i.e with the Cougars, where he has been “the guy” and MVP and he has also had to learn what is like to watch from the press box as a third goalie.

Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Cam Talbot have all made an impact after being overlooked in the Draft.

Gauthier has time on his side. Opportunities will come his way. They always have. Somewhere down the road, a significant contract could be on the horizon.

Competitiveness, mental toughness, strong work ethic, and excellent attitude are all traits that pro coaches are looking for.

Gauthier believes he has those qualities.

Now he has to continue to put them to good use.

If he does, his future is encouraging.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

The 2021 NFL Exhibition season kicked off on Sunday night when Eagles coach Doug Pederson yanked starter Jalen Hurts in the midst of a close game with playoff implications and replaced him with backup Nate Sudfeld. Ask the New York Giants if exhibition games count.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

So after Sunday night’s in-game tank job can Philadelphia’s NFL team change its song to “Lie Down Like an Eagle?”

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

The odds-on favourite to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season is:

a) TJ Watt, Steelers
b) Aaron Donald, Rams
c) COVID-19

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

PK Subban and Lindsey Vonn have called off their engagement. I doubt PK is the first hockey player to get cold feet.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca