With 20,000 fans cheering you on, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Dieppe native Philippe Myers, fresh off the ice from the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship, still gets goosebumps thinking about playing for Team Canada at one of the biggest international hockey events of the year.
The 19-year-old defenseman just can’t believe it.
“I will never forget this experience. You’re playing against the best players in the world. It’s incredible.
“When you’re up against the best hockey players, you realize you can do this and you are good. I realized I can compete against the best players and I’ll take that confidence and bring it back to the juniors. Hopefully it will pay off.”
Donning the red and white was a dream for Philippe, made all the better by playing for the national team in Canada. When the players stepped on the ice, the crowds in Toronto and Montreal roared with excitement. Philippe felt it every shift.
“They gave us the energy when we needed it at important times. It was an honour to wear that maple leaf on my chest.”
Philippe took a hit early in the second period of Canada’s 3-1 loss to the United States on Dec. 31 and left the game. He was concussed and would sit out for the rest of the tournament, including the gold medal game where Canada nabbed a silver medal. In four games, he notched three assists.
“Unfortunately my journey had to end a bit early,” he said. “But it was an incredible experience. I’ve played three preseason NHL games but after that, the World Juniors was by far the best hockey I’ve ever been in.”
Philippe went undrafted in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and went home unsigned from a Calgary Flames camp. After a strong showing at a 2015 Philadelphia Flyers development camp, the team signed Philippe to a three-year contract.
Twice named a QMJHL All-Star, it all started with a trip to the rink. After learning to skate with his dad around the age of four, Philippe enjoyed a successful career in the Moncton hockey program. He played on Team New Brunswick in 2013 and tallied 14 points for the Moncton Flyers Midget AAA team that same season. Philippe wanted to stay and prosper in his hometown.
“We had a good team that year and it was good for me to play there. It was my decision to stay and have fun with my friends,” he said. “Having fun is important when you play hockey and I’m glad I stayed in Moncton because I gained a lot of confidence and it started off my hockey career.”
Having now competed with and against some of the world’s top junior players, Philippe is taking what he’s learned from the tournament and focusing on the rest of the year with his QMJHL team.
Philippe wore the maple leaf with Rouyn-Noranda teammate Jeremy Lauzon and laced up with a handful of QMJHL rivals, including Saint John Sea Dogs Thomas Chabot and Mathieu Joseph. They all formed brotherly bonds during the tournament – but don’t expect any friendships to make an appearance in the regular season.
“Will I take it easy on those guys? Of course not,” he laughed.
Still sidelined with a concussion, Philippe is focused on getting better. He’s not stepping back on the ice until he’s 100 per cent ready.
As Philippe looks ahead to the remainder of the season, he’s got one thing on his mind: repeating history.
“We want to win the President’s Cup again. Last year’s experience was unbelievable and I think we’ve got the team to pull it off this year.”