Written by Jesse Michael for the Canadian Hockey League
For three-year WHL veteran and Victoria Royals center Steven Hodges, the dream of competing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship this year has taken another step forward.
Hodges will be a part of the star-studded lineup that will compete against the Russian National Junior Team in the finale of the SUBWAY Super Series on Thursday night.
“It was a big honour to be put in a category with guys like that who have been all ranked very high and chosen high in the draft,” said Hodges in an interview last week. “And to be able to play against Team Russia who compete very hard and have world class talent on their team, it’s going to be very exciting.”
Besides Hodges, the game six lineup for Team WHL will feature over ten NHL draft picks, which makes it hard to choose just one player that he’s excited to play with.
“They’re all very skilled individuals,” he said. “When you throw a team like that together it’s pretty cool what can happen in a short term competition when guys haven’t played together and you find that type of chemistry with guys you thought you’d never play with and are used to playing against.”
Hodges, who was a part of the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins before they moved to Victoria last season, said the Royals’ fans made the transition from city-to-city very easy.
“The city welcomed us with open arms. The organization that we’re with now is top class and don’t leave anything to chance. It’s always good when you have that support in the organization and the fans always come to our games, good or bad. We all really enjoy it here.”
Hodges also believes the excitement that’s surrounded the city the last two years for the Royals will carry over and be on full display when Team WHL hits the ice against the Russians.
“A lot of people are excited to have the SUBWAY Super Series here,” he said. “My teammates will be there and the fans will support me for the whole game. Hopefully that will help me out and keep me all jacked up.”
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers, Hodges recognizes the talent level that’s on Team WHL, and said that he’s willing to fill any role that’s asked of him.
“I feel like I’ll be a depth player,” he said. “Hopefully I will be penalty killing and I expect I will be playing in a third or fourth line role. It’s a good chance for me to get out of my comfort zone and I want to show Hockey Canada that I can play in any role that I’m given.”
Like many playing in the SUBWAY Super Series, Hodges is hoping that he’s able to use the event as a stepping stone to accomplishing one of his pre-season goals.
“It’s a good chance to show them [Hockey Canada] what you’ve got to make the first World Juniors tryout [in December],” he said. “They want to see guys who can fit into roles and not in their most comfortable position. It’ll be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”
Hodges and the rest of Team WHL take on Russia in the series finale, Thursday, November 15 live on Sportsnet starting at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific. For full coverage details visit www.subwaysuperseries.ca.