The World Junior Championship brings out the best young hockey talent from around the world — and the family who helped get them there.
Among the proud parents watching in Buffalo is Larry Steel, the father of Regina Pats player and Team Canada forward Sam Steel.
Steel spoke with the Green Zone before Friday’s gold-medal game in Buffalo, reflecting on the global community of hockey parents he’s met this year.
“All of them are really good people,” he said. “A lot of sacrifices and dedication to get their boys to where they’re at today, and everyone’s excited here to watch their boys play.”
For Steel, this year’s championship is the reward for his 19-year-old son’s hard work on the ice.
“Watching it come to fruition over the past few years, it’s been exciting,” Steel said. “Got cut from Team Canada last year, maybe it was meant to be that he’s there this year.”
The Alberta native is second in scoring for Canada ahead of the final, and is tied for fourth in tournament scoring with eight points.
Steel said his son started skating at the age of two, and by three asked to join organized hockey.
“Really at four and five years old, I knew there was something special there and a lot of people did,” Steel recalled. “I’ve always said he’s just an old hockey soul—he was born to play hockey.”
His love of the game was further nurtured by the Steel family’s dedication to the living the hockey experience in Canada.
In November 2009, the family built a large backyard rink — complete with boards, glass and even dressing rooms — for use in their community of Sherwood Park, Alta.
“Everybody pitched in, it was a labour of love,” Steel said. “To have a rink where the kids can go and play and have fun and get creative … that’s what it’s all about—having fun.”
As for what it’s like to be on the sidelines for the final, Steel sums it up simply.
“Exciting and nervous all in one,” he said. “We’re just anticipating a win tonight, and that would just be fantastic for everybody here.”