Golden Rockets head coach Jason Stephens (left) celebrates a gold medal at the World Inline Hockey Championships in Finland.

Rockets bench boss celebrates inline gold

Golden Rockets head coach Jason Stephens was behind the bench for Canada's gold medal win at the inline world championships July 11.

Ask any professional athlete about their career highlights and they’ll invariably tell you that representing their country on the world stage ranks near the top. Coaches tend to have a similar response, and it’s a sentiment that’s shared by Golden Rockets head coach Jason Stephens, who is fresh off leading Canada to its second gold medal in four years at the IIHF Inline Hockey World Championships.

Playing in the gold medal game on July 11 against the hosts from Finland, Canada got off to a slow start and they trailed 1-0 just 77 seconds into the contest in front of a lively, hostile crowd.

If there was a sense of deja-vu on the Canadian bench – Canada having fallen to the Finns in the gold medal game the year before – they didn’t show it. Stephens’ squad regrouped quickly and tied the game at a goal apiece just two and a half minutes later.

“We had a really good group of players this year, we had lots of professional experience on our team so the motivation and focus was pretty easy these past couple weeks with this group,” Stephens said. “Being down one or two in that sport isn’t anything to panic about, so we just stuck to what we were doing and the way we were playing.”

Canada took its first lead of the game halfway through the second period and didn’t look back from there, holding Finland at bay and winning by a 4-2 count.

The crowd of 6,678 in the Finnish city of Tampere was firmly behind the home team, but Stephens says that, in a way, his group used that to their advantage.

“We did a good job of blocking it out for the most part…A crowd like that not only fires up the home team but it also fires you up as well,” Stephens said.

While Stephens relishes his role in the 2012 gold medal, Canada’s previous championship win, he says the triumph this summer ranks even higher.

“In 2012 there were a couple of asterisks that were put on the team…there was a lot of talk that if the U.S. or the Swedes hadn’t got beat out in the quarterfinals, that we wouldn’t have won in 2012,” Stephens recalled. “This year, to go 6-0 through the tournament and to beat the top seed in the final. That to me was a stamp on it…there’s no question marks, no asterisks on this year.”

The inline game is far from being at the forefront of Canadian sport despite its growing popularity overseas. Stephens, who sits on the National Inline Hockey Association board says the organization is currently looking at ways to grow this entertaining sport on this side of the pond.

“It’s kind of gotten a little bit stale in Canada for some reason…it’s definitely something that we’re looking at, on how to expand the numbers. Over the last few years we haven’t seen a lot of growth but (we haven’t seen) a real decline by any means either,” Stephens said. “I think it’s about getting the sport into more communities and getting more awareness and recognition about what the sport really is.”

A few rule changes differentiate the inline game from hockey, making it an especially fast paced, and a typically high scoring, sport. For example, teams line up 4 on 4 and players aren’t allowed to pass the puck over the red line, but are allowed to carry it over. Stephens also says players can shoot the inline puck “like a rocket”, reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour with regularity.

Meanwhile, Stephens has earned his position as Canada’s inline bench boss through his international success. It’s a job that he’s been told he can have until he doesn’t want it anymore.

“To have the ability to represent your country, in a foreign country, and have the boys put the jersey on in front of you…it’s an incredible feeling whether you win or lose.”

 

Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: Search for missing Cranbrook woman enters third day

The search for a Cranbrook woman missing in the Jumbo Pass area is entering its third day.

Search for missing Cranbrook woman ongoing

Louise Baxter missing in Jumbo Pass area since Sunday

Services report: Tickets issued for tresspassing

Conservation Officer Service The Conservation Officer Service, in collaboration with local Natural… Continue reading

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Time to kick maverick Tory MP Maxime Bernier out of caucus, Scheer urged

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oft-repeated message of diversity in Canada, calling it a form of “radical multiculturalism.”

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

Two civilians were killed in a shooting in Fredericton that also claimed the lives of two police officers.

2 girls, hand-drawn map in hand, sneak out of B.C. home for adventure

The pair’s escape has transit police reminding commuters to report unusual behaviour

Ex-B.C. teachers’ union leader among latest pipeline protesters to get jail time

Twelve people have been sentenced for violating court order to stay away from Kinder Morgan terminal

B.C. not prepared for a Humboldt Broncos bus crash, group says

An air ambulance advocacy group wants an overhaul of B.C.’s emergency medical system in rural regions

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said day to recognize painful legacy would boost understanding

Most Read