With international hockey competitions wrapping up across the world, hockey season is concluding. Ryan Smith hails from Headingley, and is the head coach of the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. He took part in an international competition this spring that saw him fill the assistant coaching role on Gardiner MacDougall's staff at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Finland.

In the 24 previous iterations of the tournament, Canada had only medalled nine times, claiming four gold, one silver and four bronze medals.

Smith said the tournament was an excellent competition.

"It's the best of the best. It's a pretty unique tournament where you can get players from all over the world. Most of the players in that tournament are going to play pro at some level, whether it's in their home country or in the NHL or the American League. So, it's pretty impressive," Smith continued. "You've got the US development team that is such a strong team and a number of players that are going to go on to college and a number of players that are going to be drafted. You've got our group in Canada, the majority of guys striving to be drafted, whether it's this year or next year. You've got the Europeans that have the same goals, but also some of them already play pro in their home countries, playing against men. So, the level of competition is very high at the at the U18."

Canada was a dominant force in the tournament, winning all four games in the round-robin by a combined score of 31-7. Smith was tasked with instructing the forward units, making sure that any mistakes on the ice were fixed and also leading the powerplay, which capitalized on over 40 per cent of their opportunities. That mark included four goals in the gold medal game against the United States.

Smith shares that the group really rallied together for the tournament.

"Overall, it was great. It's a hard tournament for Hockey Canada to win. It's not an excuse. It's a fact. There's a lot of the top Canadian players are still playing. I mean, if you watch right now, there's the Memorial Cup and there's a number of players that would be eligible to play on that team. We had such a strong group that just bonded, really. I mean, that's cliche to say, but they really did. They got along. I thought Gardiner MacDougall, the head coach, and the rest of the staff did a great job of creating that chemistry right off the bat, as soon as we got there. It showed well for us. It was important that our guys played for each other. And I saw that as the tournament went on, and even when we were down in the finals. So, there's a lot to be said about chemistry and character, and this group had a ton of both of those."

With the tournament wrapped up, Smith returned home for the summer and the reception of the community has been surprising.

"It's nice to get home. Manitoba, Headingley is always home and it's nice to see some friends I haven't seen throughout the year. It's mostly the first thing we talk about, or they talk about. And it's wearing off a little bit now, I mean, it's been a couple of weeks, so just getting back into the swing of things, but I'm proud, I'm a proud Manitoban. I'm proud of all the players and people that come from our province. It's a nice moment for myself, but it's it was more about the team.

Smith says the team, in winning the gold medal, did a tremendous job and that this will be a memory for a lifetime. He adds that he's proud of the accomplishment, and it's something he won't soon forget.