Next year, University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power might be playing for Team Canada at the 2022 world junior hockey championship, which will return to Rogers Place in Edmonton.
“I think for sure it’s something I would love to do,” Power said.
This year, Power, who was prevented from attending the selection camp of the Canadian team by Wolverines coach Mel Pearson primarily for academic reasons, watched the 2021 final between Canada and the United States in Ann Arbor with four freshman teammates: goalie Erik Portillo of Sweden and forwards Philippe Lapointe (Novi), Josh Groll (San Diego) and Kent Johnson (Port Moody, British Columbia).
“We were pretty dialed-in watching the game at the house we live at,” Power said in his first public comments since Michigan’s decision in November. “It was a really fun game to watch and there wasn’t too much teasing with two Canadians, two Americans and a Swede.”
The U.S. team, which featured three other UM teammates (defenseman Cam York, forwards Matty Beniers and Brendan Brisson, plus assistant coach Kris Mayotte) won the gold medal with a 2-0 victory in Edmonton.
“Anytime you watch the (Canada-U.S.) rivalry, you want to see Canada dominate them,” Power said. “Obviously, that’s not going to happen every year. Watching the game, it did cross my mind if I thought I should’ve made the team or not but, at the end of the day, I knew it was out of my control.”
Power, ranked No. 1 overall for the 2021 NHL Draft by TSN draft analyst Bob McKenzie, who also listed Beniers and Johnson among the top 10 prospects, said he was “disappointed that I didn’t get an opportunity to represent my country” but “totally understood the decision” by Pearson.
“One of the reasons I came here was because of my close relationship with him (Pearson) and I think that’s continued,” said Power, an 18-year-old native of Mississauga, Ontario. “When we were making the decision, he had me in his office all the time and we kind of talked through it, what was going on and what he was thinking. He handled it really well.”
Academically, Power said his workload as a first-year student in the sports management program “wouldn’t have worked out with the (Hockey Canada) schedule there” with most of his five online classes held throughout the day when Canada was practicing. He said he has also gone into class on campus for tests, projects and exams during the pandemic.
“I think I would’ve missed almost two months of school,” Power said. “That was the biggest reason why the school wasn’t letting me go. The coach also didn’t want me missing 10 games either. We talked about going later into camp but that didn’t work out. Hockey Canada wanted all of their guys there from the beginning which I totally understand.”
On the ice, the Wolverines (6-6) have struggled since a 4-0 start heading into this weekend’s two-game series against the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-7-1) at Yost Arena on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Power is tied for seventh in team scoring with former Red Wings camp invitee Michael Pastujov with one goal, five assists, 19 shots, 15 blocked shots and a plus-3 rating in 12 games.
“I think my game has matured a lot since I’ve been here,” Power said. “Defensively, I’ve gotten a lot better, holding my gaps a lot tighter. Offensively, I’m getting better every game and continuing to improve.”
Power said he’s talked about the world junior tournament with his roommate Brisson, a first-round draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights and one of 28 first-round draft picks who were on the ice for the gold-medal game.
Teammate Beniers said on a conference call on Monday that he gave “his gold medal to his parents who were here on the weekend” when the Wolverines split a series against state-rival Michigan State, winning 9-0 and losing 3-2.
“Anytime you get the opportunity to play for Canada, you gotta try and play,” Power said. “This year was a bit of an exception with what was going on, but in a normal year, you can’t really say no to that.”
Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com