No one wants to be the extra forward.
However, when Canada named Brayden Point its’ 13th forward for the world junior hockey championship, they used the Martin St. Louis’ example. St. Louis was part of a group of forwards, who rotated as the extra forward for Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
“The coaching staff told me about Martin St. Louis (at the Olympics),” said Point. “That’s a guy that’s making $6 million a year. It’s part of the team.”
The 18-year-old, who has 17 goals and 44 points with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League, was in unfamiliar territory when the Under-20 tournament began Boxing Day.
“It’s a little different for sure, but I don’t think it’s tough. It’s awesome when we’re winning games,” he said. “The goal is the gold medal so it’s definitely not tough to watch other guys compete.”
Being patient and waiting for an opportunity has paid off for Point, who was selected in the third round (79th overall) by Tampa Bay at last June’s draft.
During the first period of Canada’s 8-0 quarterfinal win over Denmark Friday, St. Louis Blues’ prospect Robbi Fabbri was sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Fabbri, the Blues’ first round pick (21st overall) in 2014, will miss the remainder of the tournament. In Fabbri’s absence, Point was promoted.
“I’m disappointed obviously for Robby cause it is a huge loss for our team,” said Canadian coach, Benoit Groulx. “But I think Pointer has been very good with us since camp opened.”
Point netted his second of the tournament giving Canada a 7-0 lead during the third period Friday.
I thought I played pretty well going into a bigger role,” said Point. “You never like to see anyone go down.”
With Fabbri out, Groulx juggled his lines moving Point up to join Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar and top prospect Connor McDavid.
“I just think Connor needs that a little bit with them, a guy that can play with him, that can make plays with him,” explained Groulx. “We like to balance our lines with speed, with size, with skill.”
Added Lazar, Canada’s captain: “Brayden Point did a great job of stepping in. He fit in nicely with me and Connor, we were happy to get him a goal. He’s been a competitor and a player, for something to happen like that, it is the game of hockey and the way she goes sometimes but now there’s extra more motivation to win it for him.”
Canada plays Slovakia in Sunday’s semifinal. The Canadians have not won gold at the tournament since 2009.