Hunter hockey to get test drive

London Knights head coach Dale Hunter, left, named head coach of Canada's under-18 men's hockey...

London Knights head coach Dale Hunter, left, named head coach of Canada's under-18 men's hockey team by Hockey Canada on Wednesday, poses with his brother Mark, general manager of the Knights who will oversee the under-18s, after a media conference at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Toronto. Canada has won five straight Hlinka titles. (QMI Agency)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 PM ET

Dale Hunter will have to adjust his coaching style to the international game.

He knows it.

But that said, the Canadian under-18 team heading to the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August is going to learn the London Knights way from their head coach.

“It’s bigger ice so you’ve got to change a bit of stuff, but it’s like going to Belleville (on Olympic-sized ice) to play,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to move your feet on the big ice and play to your strengths. It’s the same as Chicago and Boston. Forecheck hard if you can, but if you lose a draw in the neutral zone, you only send the one guy.

“Knowing the kids from Ontario and still having to get to know the players from the WHL and the Quebec league, I think we’re going to be a fast team.”

Canada has won five straight Hlinka titles. Anything less and Hunter’s chance of coaching a future world tournament will become blurry.

“It’s a good thing we win,” he said. “We’re expected to win and that’s what we want. They’ve got good teams over there. Sweden’s put together a good program, and we’re going to have to buckle down, get the best players, play as a team and win.

“It’s a tournament and you’ve got to be good for 10 days, just like the Memorial Cup. You’ve got to get the players going right off the mark.”

The team will hold a selection camp July 25-29 at the MasterCard Centre, the Maple Leafs’ practice facility. Hockey Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski believes the Hunter approach will prove itself a winning method overseas.

“There’s always a transition for the coaches when they go to the big ice, but one thing we have to remember with our teams is to play our Canadian game,” he said. “Dale will set that with the under-18s. They’ll know these players from a young age and help us put the book together on them as they move up. It’ll be fun to see the evolution of this system.”

Knights GM Mark Hunter, who will oversee the under-18s and serve as part of Hockey Canada’s new management group, won’t look beyond the Hlinka event.

“Don’t put the cart before the horse,” Mark said. “We’re involved in this and hopefully, we can do the job. We’re there to win. It will help us (with the Knights) to see the (top) kids, to find out who’s good or bad, because the more involved in hockey, the more information you have, and that’s what you want.

“To me, it’s a big thing making the proper decisions for Hockey Canada and for your organization. That’s what we’re trying to do. If you’re not going to put the time into it, you’re not going to win. We’re in this, we’re happy about it and our goal right now, short-term, is to win this under-18.”

And show Hunter hockey knows no borders.


Videos

Photos