Cloverdale’s Caedan Bankier is a gold-medal winner with Team Canada at hockey’s World Juniors.
The left-shot forward, 19, celebrated with teammates in Halifax Thursday night (Jan. 5) after an overtime goal by Dylan Guenther lifted the Canadians to a 3-2 win over Czechia in the tournament’s final game.
“This is unbelievable, this is the coolest thing that’s ever happened in my entire life,” he told a TSN camera crew during the post-game celebration.
The overtime winner “was a huge sigh of relief,” Bankier added. “As soon as they went down on the two-on-one, I knew it was probably going to end well for us, and I don’t know if I got off the bench any faster. That was unbelievable.”
"This is the coolest thing that’s ever happened in my entire life": Cloverdale’s Caedan Bankier reacts after winning gold at World Juniors with @HockeyCanada.
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) January 6, 2023
Early in the second period, with Canada up by a goal, Bankier nearly made it 2-0 on a short-handed breakaway, but the goal was waved off for goalie interference after he crashed into Suchanek.
The Canadians think they've jumped out to a two-goal lead with a shorthanded Caedan Bankier (#MnWild) tally, but the goal is immediately waved off for goaltender interference.
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) January 6, 2023
In the end, the Kamloops Blazers playmaker notched one assist in seven games played at the tournament, in more of a checking and penalty-kill role for Team Canada.
— Kamloops Blazers (@blazerhockey) January 6, 2023
Four of B.C.’s best lifted Team Canada to victory, including Bankier, Kamloops-raised Stankoven, North Vancouver’s budding superstar Connor Bedard and goaltender Thomas Milic, of Coquitlam.
Bankier and the others were named to the team on Dec. 12, two weeks ahead of the popular annual tournament, officially known as the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. The games started on Boxing Day in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Bankier was among five B.C. players invited to Team Canada’s selection camp in Moncton, and he played well enough to make the final roster. At camp, he scored a goal in the first game and added two assists in the second.
“I was pretty motivated,” Bankier said later, “because I really wanted to be part of this team, just tried the best I could, and whatever happened I was going to be proud of myself.”
In the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the White Rock-born Bankier was picked in the third round, 86th overall, by the Minnesota Wild. He played minor hockey in Cloverdale and at Burnaby Winter Club before making the leap to the WHL.
The World Juniors is a tournament Bankier and his family watched every winter.
“Obviously we tuned in a bit more during Canada’s games,” he said in mid-December, before this year’s tournament began, “but we tried to watch every game we could and tried to memorize all the players names and know exactly what was going on,” said Bankier, whose name will now be the one memorized by hockey fans.
with files from The Canadian Press