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'I’m a world champion': Ont. ball hockey players win gold medal in Slovakia


Nearly a dozen local players can now call themselves world champions after winning gold at the 2024 International Street and Ball Hockey Federation U16 World Championship in Žilina, Slovakia.

They clinched the championship on Sunday with a 6-5 overtime win against the host team.

Defenceman Radoslov Dimitrov scored the game-winner just over six minutes into overtime.

“We all just went crazy,” Brady Snedden, Canada’s forward, told CTV News.

Brock Schaus, of Wellesley, stopped 32 shots in the gold medal game. He was also named the tournament’s top goaltender.

“I was just so happy at that moment,” Schaus said.

Among Canada’s 22-man roster, half are from Waterloo Region and Wellington County, with seven players representing national champions Guelph Cyclones and four players coming from national finalists KW Rangers.

“A lot of it is definitely chemistry,” Schaus explained. “We all know each other well, we’ve all grown up around each other.”

Matthew Leitch, Canada’s defenceman, said it also shows how many qualified players are coming out of the area.

“We have a lot of talent here and it’s nothing to joke about,” Leith added.

This is the first time, since 2008, both the U16 and U18 teams have clinched gold for Canada in the same year.

2008 is also the year many of the U16 players were born.

Looking back, Schaus described the feat as a “feather in the cap”

The Canadians entered the tournament with heightened expectations. Weeks before leaving for Slovakia, several players told CTV News that coming back with anything less than a gold medal would be considered a failure.

Players said it felt great returning from Europe after accomplishing exactly what they went there to do.

“You feel like you did what you wanted to do, and you’re happy, and not leaving with any regrets,” explained Canada forward Brady Snedden.

Leitch, meanwhile, described the moment as a “dream come true”, adding: “I’m a world champion and no one will ever take that away from me.”

Each of the players will be eligible for the U18 team in two years’ time.

The group has also discussed the possibility of teaming up again for another kick at the can.

In the meantime, these teammates will return to the game as foes, as both the Cyclones and Rangers gear up for the start of the Ontario Ball Hockey Federation Provincial Championship.

“Once friends, now enemies,” Schaus joked. “We’ll chat with these guys today, but on Friday, it’s all business.” Top Stories

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