EDMONTON - Apart from not winning gold, Taylor Hall has fond memories of his World Junior experience.
The Edmonton Oilers centre was a member of the Canadian team that lost to the United States in the final of the 2010 tournament in Saskatoon.
He was eligible to play in last year’s tournament as well, but was busy being the centerpiece of the Oilers rebuilding efforts.
“I was one of those kids that sat around the Christmas tree and watched the World Juniors with my parents,” Hall said. “I never really thought that I’d be the kind of calibre player that could play in the World Juniors, but once I started to realize I could play pro, I knew the World Juniors was that step to playing pro and becoming a professional.
“I got cut my first time trying out, but the second time, even though we lost in the gold-medal game, was something that I’ll never forget and something I think about all the time.”
On Wednesday, Hall served as the poster boy for the Edmonton Oil Kings and their association with this year’s tournament. The event will be co-hosted by Edmonton and Calgary.
“I had a similar experience having the tournament in Canada,” said Hall. “You play in a big arena with a great Canadian atmosphere that was sold out every night. For an 18-year-old kid like me coming from Windsor, it was something that I never expected, but for all of us involved it was awesome just to be in Canada and really feel that pride that our country has.”
The Oil Kings are hoping the tournament helps grow junior hockey in the city and it’s the reason they submitted a joint bid with the Calgary Hitmen to host the event. The Oil Kings, who could have a handful of players take part in the tournament, purchased a block of tickets for the event and sold them to their season ticket holders.
The club is putting remainder of those tickets on sale, offering a pair of mini pack options for junior hockey fans starting on Sept. 15. The mini pack also feature tickets to Oil Kings games this year and next season.
Rexall Place will host 10 round-robin games, four featuring Team Canada. They face Finland on Boxing Day, Denmark two nights later, the Czech Republic on Dec. 28 and the United States on New Year’s Eve.
Calgary will host the medal rounds.
“Playing in that tournament showed me the calibre of players that are at that stage,” Hall said. “Not only that, but it introduced me to the media scrutiny that you have to go through during that tournament and how much pressure is really on you.
“You have your whole country behind you and you know everybody is watching. I can remember checking my phone after games and it would just be blown up. It was a fun time.”