Everett Silvertips prospect Nate Goodbrandson, for a couple weeks, traded out his skates for tennis shoes. And he received a gold medal in return.
Goodbrandson, 16, was a member of the Canada West ball hockey team, which captured gold at the under-16 World Junior Ball Hockey championships in the Czech Republic.
“It was a good experience,” Goodbrandson said. “There were a lot of things that we had to adjust to … but it was a lot of fun.”
Canada West outscored opponents 30-10 in total, including an 8-6 victory over Canada East in the gold-medal game. Canada West did not drop a single game throughout the tournament.
Goodbrandson finished with a goal and two assists over the five-game tournament.
Goodbrandson, who signed with the Silvertips in November, posted 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists) for the Winnipeg Thrashers AAA midget program in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League this past season.
The major differences between ice hockey and ball hockey are as you expect. Skates are eschewed for regular shoes and there’s no checking. But players are still adorned with shin pads, gloves and helmets and are gripping the usual ice hockey sticks. Games are played in a regulation sized hockey rink — without the ice, of course — and a hard plastic ball replaces the puck.
“It was pretty natural,” Goodbrandson said. “Just one thing is you have to have really good hands, because those guys are pretty good at stick checks out there.”
Goodbrandson was selected for the team throughout a provincial camp in Manitoba, he said.
The seventh-round bantam pick by the Silvertips in the 2018 draft will be skating in his second training camp with Everett, and his first since signing with the team.
It was a no-brainer to sign his Western Hockey League standard player agreement, Goodbrandson said.
“It wasn’t too much of a decision honestly,” he said. “The opportunity came up and I’m happy I was able to sign. One step closer to playing in this league (WHL).”
Goodbrandson was in tight quarters with what someday could be two bitter division rivals; Seattle prospect Conner Roulette and Portland prospect Dawson Pasternak were also on the Canada West squad. Pasternak was named the tournament’s MVP and Roulette was named the top forward.
“We’ve been talking about that a lot recently,” Goodbrandson said.
Goodbrandson said there was some playful banter during their trip, but they’ll save more for when they lace up the skates again.