Bronze medal for McCallum
by Derek Cornet
Craig McCallum of Canoe Lake Cree Nation recently finished his final year with university hockey at an international tournament in Spain.
McCallum – a University of Saskatchewan hockey player – returned last month from the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada where he competed with Canada’s chosen squad. All the players were selected from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s Canada West conference, which includes the U of S Huskies.
An initial roster of 47 players was selected in September, which was then cut to a final list of 23 in December with five alternates. McCallum feels he was chosen because he can play a variety of hockey styles.
“It did have to do with my stats, but at the same time they were looking for players who were suitable in different roles,” he remarked. “I like to think that’s one of my strengths, that I could be used in different situations, positions and roles.”
From Feb. 3-7, Team Canada played three games against South Korea, Sweden and Russia and ultimately beat each team to place first in the round-robin portion of the tournament. In the quarter-final game, Canada came up against the United States and beat them 4-0.
The Canadians witnessed their first loss of the tournament when they played Russia in the semi-finals. The game ended with a shootout win for Russia who defeated Team Canada 3-2. Canada had beaten Russia in round-robin play 5-3, but couldn’t repeat the win.
“It was more of a playoff game than anything else,” McCallum said. “There was tight checking. Players were making more plays. There were barely any mistakes. The opportunity to play the Russians is something only a few people get to say they did in their lifetime.”
Overall, Team Canada returned home with a bronze medal after beating the Czech Republic 6-2. It wasn’t the result McCallum was looking to end his university hockey career with, but noted the tournament had a silver lining.
“Getting a chance to go and be part of that was one of the proudest moments of my life,” he said. “I still wish my season was going and had the opportunity to win a national tournament with the team, but going to Spain and winning bronze and making memories with those guys, if I have to settle for that, then I’m settling for something pretty good.”
This year marked McCallum’s final season with the Huskies, as he is now no longer eligible to continue playing. He doesn’t have any future hockey plans, but said he’s going to take a break and re-evaluate his prospects.
Dave Adolph coached McCallum with the Huskies, as well as the team sent to represent Canada in Spain. He said McCallum is one of the country’s best hockey players and is among the top 15 per cent.
“He has a gift to play the way the game is evolving,” Adolph said. “He possesses a lot of skills. Craig is a quiet player, but he’s sneaky, sneaky good.”