Tyler Steenbergen etched his name into Canadian hockey history when he scored the gold medal clinching goal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo Friday.
Steenbergen tipped home a pass from Conor Timmins with 1:40 remaining in regulation to break a 1-1 tie to help Canada to a 3-1 win over Sweden in the gold medal game.
“It is still pretty hard to put words to it,” admitted Steenbergen, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday. “But I know looking back at it now it’s pretty surreal. I haven’t really thought about it too much, but it is going to be cool being able to watch that down the road and it’s definitely a memory I am never going to forget.”
Steenbergen played only 7:16 in the contest, but made his final shift count in front of 17,544 fans at the Key Bank Arena. The Canadian Hockey League’s leading goal scorer heading into camp, Steenbergen had played the entire tournament as Canada’s 13th forward and was the only forward without a goal entering the final game.
“I knew going into the tournament that I wasn’t going to be playing as much as I am used to back in Swift. No matter what role I was going to be playing I knew that was going to be the case for myself. Obviously it would have been nice to play more, but for how the tournament ended for myself I couldn’t have asked for a better script for it. Getting those minutes and then finally getting to play in the third it was a pretty big deal for myself and the tournament as a whole I am never going to forget it. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Steenbergen has missed the Broncos last 15 games, but the team overcame the absence of a 35-goal player with a 10-4-1-0 record and remain second in Western Hockey League.
“I want to bring back a winning mentality to Swift. We have a lot of work to do, but our main focus is to get to the Memorial Cup in May in Regina,” he said.
Steenbergen is expected to be in the line-up on Friday in Prince Albert and it will be a very different team than the one he left, including the addition of rookie defensemen Jacson Alexander.
“I know Alexander came into camp as a 16-year-old and he was phenomenal there. It would have been nice to have had him at the start of the year. I am really looking to getting to know him and getting going with him.”
The team also made a major move on Sunday to add 6’3’’, 220-pound Colorado Avalanche prospect Josh Anderson on the blueline in a trade from Prince George ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“He’s going to help out a tonne on our back end and bring a lot of experience back there. We will see what the next couple days bring. I am sure by the time I am back there will be a couple more new faces in Broncos sweaters and I am looking forward to getting going in the second half.”
His prophecy came true the following the day when the Broncos swung their second blockbuster of the season, adding goaltender Stuart Skinner and forwards Giorgio Estephan and Tanner Nagel from Lethbridge and Andrew Fyten from Calgary.
Steenbergen will make his home ice return on Saturday when the Broncos will honour him, and teammates Artyom Minulin and Aleksi Heponiemi, at World Junior Tribute Night. It will be his first game at the Innovation Credit Union iplex Swift Current in 42 days.
“It is going to be cool,” when asked about his highly anticipated return to Swift Current. “Everyone in Swift has been rooting me on in tweets and I have gotten texts from people. It is pretty cool to see that they have been behind me the whole time. It is pretty much the same in Sylvan Lake here, everyone is behind me. It’s pretty similar with those small towns where you know everyone and all the fans are rooting for you and it is a pretty good feeling to bring them back a gold medal.”
See the Jan. 11 edition of the Southwest Booster for the complete story