Team Canada cruised into the Gold Medal Game of the 2018 World Juniors with a 7-2 thrashing of the Czech Republic. After the game, all eyes were on the returning Victor Mete and Eyes on the Prize was there to grab his post-game thoughts.
How did it feel to be back in the lineup after missing the quarter-finals?
Mete: It felt good to be back in the lineup. Obviously I didn’t want to miss any games, but I’m feeling good now.
How does it feel getting to play for a gold medal?
Obviously it’s very special, especially at World Juniors. Everyone is excited and it feels like we’ve been here forever, and we’re happy we’re here now.
What made you guys successful tonight?
We played a good team game. We stuck to the game plan and it was obviously successful.
Has anything you’ve experienced before prepared you at all for a one-and-done game like this gold medal one on this stage?
I don’t know (laughs). I’ve been through a lot this year so it’s kind of that I’m not feeling any pressure and we’re all really excited.
What did you see from the team while you were out of the lineup, especially the defence corps?
I thought they played good. Obviously we won 8-2, two goals against is pretty good I think. I thought they were pretty good that game.
You’ve been with Montreal this entire season, what have you learned being among the pros on the Canadiens?
Yeah I think it’s just, you always have to be ready when it comes to games. There’s no times off, you can’t have a bad game or things won’t go well, so you kind of self prepare before every game, just like we’ll prepare before our game tomorrow.
Have any of the guys on the Habs helped you off the ice in how you prepare for things?
Uh, they kind of let me do my own thing I’d say, but obviously they all kind of took me under their wings and just kind of showed me around and treated me like I was a teammate there forever almost. It’s been really good.
Does winning big in the quarter- and semifinals have a big impact on your confidence?
Yeah, no I think it’s good, we have a lot of guys that can score and we’re kind of showing it, so tomorrow we have to come out and try to do the same thing.
A year ago you were one of the last cuts for Team Canada, and a year later you’re a key player for them. What has that year of experience done for your development?
I think it made me try to develop my game in every area that I can: in the offensive zone, in the defensive zone, and even how I played in the neutral zone. I practised a lot in the summertime on things I needed to improve on, and it’s been a lot for me so far this year, but kind of just looking forward to tomorrow because it’s been a long time coming.
What can you say about your opponent, Sweden, so far?
They’ve been good. They’re in the same position as us, in the Gold Medal Game, so we know what to expect from them. They’re a hard working team, with a ton of skill, so we need to focus on just playing our game.
Any thoughts on Rasmus Dahlin?
I haven’t seen a ton of him this tournament, but from the summer tournament he’s really good obviously, heard a lot of good things about him. It’ll be good to play against him I think.
First NHL game or first Gold Medal Game?
They’re both up there as really cool experiences, but I’ll say the medal game because you only have one chance at this.