Mitch Love and Canada will open up the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton against Germany this afternoon at three o’clock.
Love, who grew up in Quesnel, is once again an assistant coach on this year’s team.
He takes on a bit of a different role this year…
“Last year I was working with Dale with the forwards and assisting him. This year working with our defense core and working on the penalty kill, I’m excited about that opportunity, we’ve got a great group of men back there. Four of these kids played on our Ivan Hlinka team a few years ago, two guys from the team last year as well, so there is that familiarity there and hopefully it’s something that from a communication piece from coach to player and player to coach.”
One thing that is obviously different this year is having to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic…
“Obviously it’s been unprecedented times with everything that is going on in our world. The one thing that we’ve noticed as a staff is just how resilient our group has been, you know through the two week quarantine in Red Deer to the mandatory four day quarantine here for every country and coming out if and not really missing a beat in terms of our comradery as a group.”
Love was asked about what it’s like to be a coach during COVID…
“We’re all dealing with these circumstances that we’re not used to, and I think from a coaching standpoint, we’re the main leaders in that dressing room so we’ve got to be upbeat with our energy, we’ve got to make sure that we’re following protocols and doing all those things that we expect our players to do. So I just try to be myself with the guys, I think we all enjoy being back around each other in a team setting and being here and getting the chance to play hockey.”
Love’s full-time job is Head Coach of the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.
After Germany, Canada will play Slovakia on Sunday, Switzerland on Tuesday and then Finland on Thursday in the round-robin play.