Steve Hildebrand (left of captain) – photo: Hockey Canada Images
Saskatoon, SK – While the spotlight was on the players on the ice, one member of the Blades organization was quietly working off the ice for months in advance in preparation of the World Under 17 Challenge, and it paid off with a silver medal. But it was the experience, as in the past, that continues to stand out.
Saskatoon Blades Associate General Manager Steve Hildebrand served as Team Canada Red’s Director of Operations at this year’s World U-17 Hockey Challenge. This wasn’t new territory for Hildebrand, who has now represented the maple leaf on the international stage on six occasions, including three IIHF World Junior tournaments that garnered 2 silver medals, a gold medal at the 2002 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, and now two trips to the World U-17 Challenge in back-to-back years.
Better known as ‘Hilty’ around the rink, Steve brought back a silver medal with Team Canada Red this time around to add to his collection.
Hildebrand may not be on the ice competing, instead it’s the preparation and the process leading up to and throughout the tournaments that have the Blades AGM in the trenches.
“It’s definitely busy, especially the last couple weeks leading up to the tournament but it’s all about time management,” said Hildebrand, speaking to juggling both jobs with the Blades and Hockey Canada. “It’s a very special honour to work for your country and anytime you get that opportunity you have to take it and as time goes on I hope to continue to have those opportunities.”
The competition is the best of the best during international play, so making sure the players, coaches, and the rest of the staff have everything they need– and then some, is Hilty’s responsibility.
“Attention to detail is one of the biggest things with Hockey Canada. Whether it’s the logistics, player diets, daily schedule, everything is constantly analyzed, no stone is left unturned to ensure when the players hit the ice they are 100% ready to go and don’t have any distractions.” explained Hildebrand.
Originally from Manitoba, Hilty has worked with Hockey Canada in various different tournaments across the world, though in the past two years he feels the U-17 tournament has been especially beneficial given his current position with the Saskatoon Blades. Not only does it allow him to observe the best 16-year-old players in the world and work alongside the best coaching groups in the nation, he also gets to witness first hand how the players tick; how they respond to adversity, and different roles on and off the ice.
Hildebrand looks forward to future opportunities with Hockey Canada, and in the meantime his number one focus is to continue building the Saskatoon Blades.
The next Blades home game is Friday, November 17th versus the Brandon Wheat Kings for First Nations Night. Click here for tickets or call 306.975.8844 to book your group night or experience package!