The youngest member of Team Canada, Cole Sillinger has inherited from his father to wrestle with at the IIHF World Championship, but it is a challenge he is happy to take on.
For Cole Sillinger, being named Team Canada for her 19th birthday was just the icing on the cake for an impressive rookie season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. But what made it all sweeter was knowing that he achieved the honor 10 years earlier in his career than his famous father.
And Mike could not be prouder.
“He is well ahead of the game, plays in the NHL at the age of 18 and has a chance to represent his country in the world market,” Mike said the same day the team’s playlist was announced. “We will watch, we do not care what time the match is, we will watch.”
This is the second time the youngest of the three Sillinger boys has been named to a Canadian list for a world championship, but only the first time he has been able to play. Last year, a late covid-19 diagnosis forced him away from Canada’s U18 men’s national team, which eventually won a gold medal at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas.
So when Rick Nash, Canada’s assistant general manager – and head of player development with the Blue Jackets – offered Cole a place on the world team during his final meeting of the NHL season, he jumped at the chance.
“[Nash] said I did not have to give him my answer right away, but I gave him that right away, because obviously when you have a chance to represent Canada, you will want to do it and make it proud, says Cole. explaining.
“When you get a chance to represent your country, it’s something you’re really looking forward to,” Mike said. “It’s a great chance to meet new guys and build that friendship while playing for the flag on the front of your shirt.
“It’s pretty cool.”
The 2000 version of Team Canada ended with just one medal and fell 2-1 to Finland in the bronze medal game. Mike scored three goals in nine games as captain.
In the first four matches of the 2022 event, Cole has already excelled as a goal scorer, having found the net twice. Even with the early success, he does not think it will be much fun with his father until the matches are over, as he knows that his father won a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship 1991.
“I do not think anything will be done until I have a chance [win a gold medal],” He laughs. “[Mike is] fantastic, I have received so much support from him and one of the things I have appreciated about him is that just because he had his career he understands that there are no extra doors open for my brothers and me and it’s just time for us to create our own path. ”
Mike’s career spanned 1,049 games over 18 NHL seasons with 12 teams. Sillinger’s older brothers, Owen and Luke, have had success in the NCAA, and Owen ended the season with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.
Sillingerhemmet was – and is – clearly a hockey house. Although Cole says hockey did not come first in his childhood home, the competition did.
“Whether it was golf or training or even who should have dinner first, we are super competitive,” he explains.
“Cole is just very driven and mature over his age and that obviously comes from being around his brothers and a team environment,” Mike said. “I did not think he would get a chance [to play for Canada] right at the age of 18 but he had a pretty good year, and it takes different pieces to build a team and he can play in different situations. ”
“For me, I just want to help the team when I can,” said Cole. “I think the goal when you put on the Maple Leaf is to forget where you played in your club team and … just leave your ego at the door and do everything you can to help win.”
Which is the ultimate goal of this event for Canada and Cole, coming home with a gold medal. That way, he will already be even in the medal count with his dad and still have a long career to surpass him.