By Doyle Potenteau
Ryan Huska has never been to Buffalo before. That’ll change this December.
On Monday, Hockey Canada announced its national-junior team coaching staff for the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo and Niagara, N.Y., December 26th to January 5th, and Huska was named one of three assistant coaches. He’ll be joining head coach Dave Cameron plus assistants Bob Boughner and Andre Tourigny.
That Huska was selected isn’t truly surprising, given his sparkling junior resume, which features seven Memorial Cup appearances — three as a player and four with the Kelowna Rockets, including the 2009 tournament as the team’s head coach. Huska, however, said he found the news eye-opening.
“I got the news last week, but it didn’t come out until Monday,” said Huska, who has been part of Kelowna’s coaching staff for eight years now. “It was surprising for me, because, going into it, it was a joint application for both the world-junior team and the under-18 program. And you submit for what position you want to be, and it’s kind of an either-or type thing.
“So I was hoping to get some consideration for an under-18 team position, so I was over the moon when I got a phone call and it was with the world junior team. It’s such an honour and a thrill to be part of the program.”
Now that he’s Buffalo-bound, will he try to catch former Rockets defenceman Tyler Myers in action with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres? Maybe.
“This will be my first trip to Buffalo and I said something to Tyler about trying to watch him yesterday,” said the 34-year-old. “He just kinda laughed and said they’ll probably be on the road. Hopefully there’s a chance to catch up with him.”
As for the rest of Canada’s coaching staff, Cameron, 51, is the head coach of the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, who will play host to the 2011 Memorial Cup. For Cameron, the Buffalo tournament will be his third straight year with the national junior program, having spent the last two as an assistant coach. He also guided Canada’s U-18 squad to gold in 2004.
Rounding out the quartet are Boughner, 39, head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, who recently won their second consecutive Memorial Cup last month in Brandon, Man., and Tourigny, 36, head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Of the three, Huska has ties with Boughner, whose Spitfires defeated his Rockets twice at the 2009 Memorial Cup, including 4-1 in the championship game.
“That’s one of the big reasons why people want to get involved with the Hockey Canada program; you get a chance to meet and learn from some fantastic coaches,” said Huska. “It starts with Dave up top and then Bob and Andre. So it’ll be very exciting for me.
“I thought being around Don Hay and Willie Desjardins at the Subway Super Series was one of the big reasons why I really wanted to get involved in this. It gives you a great opportunity to learn from terrific coaches, and I’m going to have that opportunity.”
Now, with Huska gone for approximately one month, his head-coaching workload will be shuffled onto the desks of his assistants: Dan Lambert and Ryan Cuthbert. And Huska knows exactly what they’ll be facing, having had his workload increased when Rockets assistant coach Jeff Truitt left for the same time period to be Canada’s video coach at the 2004 tournament in Helsinki, Finland.
“It was a fair amount of work,” recalled Huska. “(Head coach Marc Habscheid) was great at that time; he allowed me to do a lot of things, but it wasn’t like ‘Here, this is just you; get it done.’ It wasn’t anything like that, but I did get an opportunity to do a lot more while Jeff was gone. I think that’s really how you learn as a coach, to get opportunities, and Marc was terrific when Jeff left, and it was a lot of fun for me to help out any way I could while he was gone.
“I know Dan and Ryan are going to do a great job; they’re terrific people and they understand the game very well. I know they’re going to have a lot of success over Christmas.”
Hockey Canada thinks the same as well, albeit in a different vein.
“We are very excited about the coaching staff we are naming today for Canada’s National Junior Team,” said Hockey Canada’s Brad Pascall, the senior director of men’s national teams. “All four of these coaches bring a wealth of experience, and we look forward to working with them this winter in Buffalo.”
For more on the 2011 tournament, visit: