Barrie Colts captain Bryan Little received more than just the accolades and feverish applause of Colts fans at the Barrie Molson Centre Saturday. Courtesy of Jamie Massie and Georgian Pontiac, he also received the use of a new Pontiac Solstice car for the rest of the season as a reward for his efforts at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The gift was on behalf of the team and its fans, the City of Barrie and the staff of the dealership.
Barrie Colts captain Bryan Little returned home this weekend to a hero’s welcome.
Canada won its third straight gold medal, 4-2, at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden. They defeated Russia for the third time in as many years and did so with goals from Andrew Cogliano, Jonathan Toews, Brad Marchand and Little.
Prior to the game Saturday, Barrie honored Little in a ceremony with a presentation and a video tribute to mark the gold medal win by Team Canada.
“It makes it that much better because I didn’t get to experience it last year,” Little, a late cut from last year’s team, said Saturday of winning the gold medal. “It was so intense this year – with the (semifinal) game against the States and going into the shootout.”
Little, who was placed on a line with James Neal and Sam Gagner, was pleased with his contribution to the team despite missed opportunities.
“I had some chances the whole tournament but I couldn’t find the net,” he said. “I really wanted a goal in the tournament. Fortunately it came in the last game and it was an important game so it felt extra good.”
Little credits the camaraderie and hard work amongst his teammates for Team Canada’s success in this year’s championship.
“Our defence, forwards and goaltending – they all played an awesome tournament … I think it helped that we had experience,” he said. “I think it also helped that the team came together so fast. We were together for about a month and we started playing together pretty fast, so we got off on a good start and I think everyone got to know each other pretty good.”
Despite the immense pressure on the junior team, Little said the players were more than determined to play their best and bring home the top prize.
“There was so much pressure put on the Canadians. If you don’t win gold it’s a disappointment, and we were taking it that way too. We didn’t want anything but the gold medal.”
There was also another reason behind Canada’s success.
“We were that much more motivated because Canada hasn’t won on European soil in ten years. Everyone wanted it that bad and (coach) Hartsburg made sure everyone was focused.”
Prior to the game Saturday night, Little paid a visit to the Colts dressing room where he was met with cheers and welcoming applause from his teammates.
“(We’re) very, very excited,” said forward Vladimir Nikiforov at Little’s return home.
“We’ve missed him. We’re all happy for Lits (Little) winning gold. I saw him and gave him a hug,” he said with a big smile. “It’s good to have him back.”
Coach Marty Williamson agreed. “It’s fantastic,” he said of his captain winning gold with Team Canada. “It’s a great thing he’s done and it’s a life experience he’ll never forget.”