Two members of the Saskatoon Blades will be competing at the World U18 Hockey Championships beginning next week in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia.
Defenseman Mark Rubinchik will be suiting up for Team Russia, something he’s becoming quite familiar with, “It’s always very exciting to play for my home country,” said Rubinchik who has been playing on the international stage since he was just 15 years old, representing his country at the World U16’s, U17’s, and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial last summer. “Coaches put a lot of trust in me here and it’s a good place to show my talents by playing against the best guys from around the world in my age group.”
Rubinchik played in 63 games for the Saskatoon Blades this past season, recording 23 points and 54 penalty minutes in his rookie year. Mark believes staying competitive in the off-season will only further his development as he looks forward to taking on a bigger role with the Blades next season. Saskatoon Blades General Manager Colin Priestner echoed those comments as he also expects big things from Rubinchik as a returning 18 year old.
“This will be a great experience for Mark as he’ll have a chance to showcase himself for NHL scouts and GM’s. He improved a ton over the year and I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a great showing for Russia, especially given his experience at the Ivan Hlinka tournament last summer.”
Also representing the Blades is Head Equipment Manager, Chad Scharff, who is back on the scene for Team Canada for the second time in less than a year. Scharff brought home a Silver medal in November along with Blades rookie, Chase Wouters, at the World U17’s, and he must have made an impression on Hockey Canada earning a spot to ply his trade once again for the under 18 tournament.
“It’s an incredible honour to be able to represent Hockey Canada and the Saskatoon Blades at the World U18 Championship. The travel here to Bratislava was long but the excitement of arriving and getting things going overseas was enough in itself,” said Scharff after landing in Slovakia this week. “We’re starting to get settled and preparing for pre-tournament games this weekend; I’m really looking forward to this experience.”
Scharff has an extensive hockey resume which includes a Memorial Cup ring as a player with the Vancouver Giants in 2007. With this tournament being his second stint representing the maple leaf, Chad plans to take it all in and relish the moment. “I just try to enjoy every opportunity and be the best I can be, I’ve always tried to learn from people around me and nothing changes at this tournament,” Even having spent time in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Scharff is always looking to improve the process behind the scenes. “There are a lot of great hockey people here that work with Hockey Canada and I’ll just soak in whatever information or advice I can get from everyone. I believe it’s important to take pride in my line of work and what I do, but also what others do around me.”
The tournament begins next Thursday, but both Scharff and Rubinchik will see each other on Sunday as Canada takes on Russia in a pre-tournament game. Canada opens the preliminary round of the tournament on the 13th against Switzerland, while Rubinchik and Team Russia go up against Sweden later that day.