There’s no greater honour than representing your country on the world stage. For Niagara IceDogs’ forwards Akil Thomas and Philip Tomasino, who cherish donning the red maple leaf, their next opportunity to skate for the true north, strong and free, is the CIBC Canada-Russia Series.
The elite prospects for Niagara are listed among the 25 players selected to represent the OHL in the Super Series and are also included in the 15 players that will compete in both Ontario games (Thursday, Nov. 7 at Kitchener, ON, Monday, Nov.11 at London, ON) against the top Russian junior players available. Their success in making this team is another confirmation that the two are another step closer to realizing their World Junior Championship dreams.
Thomas and Tomasino already boast a wealth of international experience. They represented Hockey Canada at both the under-18 and under-17 tournaments and attended Canada’s National Junior Summer Showcase this past August, in Plymouth, Michigan. This latest addition to their already impressive resumes will only aid the duo’s quest to impress Hockey Canada’s brass.
Both players spoke on the importance the tournament invite holds.
“It was one of my goals heading into this year to be named its two games to prove yourself and prove that you deserve to be on that team,” said Tomasino. “It’s one step in the making Team Canada. Hopefully, I go in there and impress and improve my chances of making that team.”
“It’s just the start of it,” echoed Thomas. “If they see me being a really good player in these games, hopefully, they see me being a big part come Christmas time. All it is, is doing the right things, and playing the right way. If we all do that, our skill will take over. It will create chemistry quickly. We’re all really good players and can make plays.
“It’s going to be fun. I’m excited to learn from some of the other guys too.”
IceDogs’ fans will be ecstatic to see two of their stars in action against some of the best juniors in the world and, battling for spots on Team Canada.
“I plan to just play as hard as I can,” said Thomas. “The only thing I can do is compete and try the best I can. I’ve always wanted to wear the Canada jersey at the World Juniors.”
Tomasino reiterated his captain’s sentiment.
“My goal is to make that team, so anything I have to do to be on that roster I’m going to do it.”