Eric Comrie IIHF World Championship Journal #1
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Eric Comrie is currently overseas at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. He has kindly agreed to share his experience while he is in France, taking part in his first non-junior international competition for Team Canada. We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look from one of the top young goalies in the game today!
I’ve been very fortunate to play for Hockey Canada a number of times in the past. My first experience was with U17 Team Pacific, which was a really fun tournament. After that, I participated in the prestigious U18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. Then came the World Juniors, the biggest of them all. The experiences that I’ve had have been so different. It’s so exciting to go through each event, because it feels like you’re part of a pretty big deal. I know it gets said a lot, but it really is a great honour to be able to represent your country.
The greatest memory of international competition I have is definitely when I suited up for Team Canada at the World Juniors. It was so exciting to win the gold medal on home soil in Toronto. Words can’t describe the feeling. I was very, very lucky to get to be a part of that. Now, going to the World Championship, I’m really proud to be able to represent this country once again.
This tournament feels a lot different from the other ones, though. In the others, you’re playing within your age group. Now in this one, you’re playing against NHL all stars. I’m very lucky to even be a part of this – to get to add it to my resume. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ll try to take full advantage of it, and enjoy every single moment.
Not only have I had the chance to play for Team Canada, I’ve also had the chance to work at a handful of their camps. I love helping out Fred Brathwaite. He’s been a great goalie coach and mentor for me. Winning the World Junior gold medal with him there was really special. Having him by my side was really great, so I always try to help him out as much as I can. There are so many young, great goaltenders in Canada, so I love helping out. It really is the least I can do to help Canada become the best it can possibly be at the position.
Wearing the Team Canada jersey is always really special. You dream of playing in the World Championship, World Juniors, and Olympics when you’re a kid. I know envisioning myself putting the jersey on is always something that I dreamt about. I always think back to Carey Price making that big save in the shootout to defeat the U.S., and that drives me to push myself to play in international tournaments – so I can be a part of moments like that.
When you play for team Canada, you’re playing for more than just the tournament. Representing your country is something that I take very seriously. I have a lot of pride in my country, and I take a lot of pride in wearing this jersey. It’s very different than playing for your club team. It feels so much bigger. You’re representing an entire nation.
Playing in the World Juniors made every big game since then so much easier. It’s such a big stage. You know everyone is watching and overanalyzing. Everyone is tuned in and will be judging you. I think Fred Brathwaite had the best advice. He said: “Treat every game as if you’re playing on an outdoor rink with your friends.” I remember that advice every time I play a big game, whether it’s my first NHL game, or the game against the USA at the World Juniors. It helps me settle in and get into my game. It’s something that has stuck with me, and hopefully I get to use that advice here at the World Championship.
Walking into the World Championship dressing room was a little bit more nerve-wracking for me. I’d say I was even more nervous than when I walked into the World Junior locker room. You’re surrounded by similar teammates at the World Juniors. You’re all the same age, have the same interests, and know each other a little bit. Not at the World Championship! It’s a lot of older guys here. These are NHL All Stars. This is the cream of the crop. These guys have been in the NHL for a long time. I’ve grown up watching some of these guys on TV! Now all of a sudden I’m meeting them.
I’ve been staying quiet for the most part, and getting to know them slowly so I can work my way into the mix. There are a few other Winnipeg Jets players here that I know, like Josh Morrissey and Mark Scheifele, so that helps. I also know Calvin Pickard, who is a great friend of mine. We like to skate together when we’re in Winnipeg, or with my goalie coach Lyle Mast during the summer. That has definitely helped me settle in a bit easier. Getting into your routine is important, so being comfortable around a good group of guys helps a lot. I’m really looking forward to our first game!