International Ice Hockey Federation

Hicketts knows his role

Hicketts knows his role

Canadian defenceman back with U20 squad

Published 05.08.2015 17:55 GMT+3 | Author Chris Jurewicz
Hicketts knows his role
Joe Hicketts skates with the trophy after Canada had beaten Russia in the gold medal game of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Joe Hicketts has the kind of resume that screams leadership. In fact, if he hasn’t done so, Hicketts should go ahead and add “leadership” on his profile.

The 19-year-old is in Calgary this week as the lone returning defenceman to Canada’s World Junior Championship squad. Hicketts, one of five returning players who helped Canada win gold at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, is among 40 players at Hockey Canada’s under-20 development camp.

Given his Team Canada experience, Hicketts knows that a lot will be expected of him at the 2016 World Juniors.

“I bring some leadership and I can talk about that experience, how hard it was to win it and how filling and rewarding it was,” he says. “You can help set the pace in practice, make sure guys are knowing their roles and making sure that we understand the foundation that we’re building as we move forward into December.”

Hicketts is used to others looking to him for direction.

At age 15, he captained Canada to a bronze medal at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games.

The next year, he captained Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Hicketts has also played with Canada’s under-18 team, helping the squad win gold at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament and following that with a bronze medal at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.

Last year, Hicketts chipped in three assists as Canada claimed gold at the World Juniors.

Canada’s best under-17 and under-18 players have joined the under-20 group this week in Calgary as part of Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase. Hicketts knows many eyes are on him and he certainly isn’t shying away from the attention.

“I came in a day early and I talked to some of the U17 guys and I just said, ‘take as much in as you can,’“ says Hicketts. “Hockey Canada wants to play the same systems throughout U17, U18, U20 and even with the senior men’s. They’re using the same forechecks, the same neutral zone, the same defensive zone. Making sure that they know that they’re building a foundation that they can work on as they move up into the U18 and U20 programs.”

Not only is Hicketts leaving an impression off the ice, but he continues to make one on it. In Canada’s first game of the development camp against Russia on Monday, Hicketts’ goal early in the second period stood as the game winner as Canada claimed a 4-1 victory.

The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Hicketts will complete the camp in Calgary at the end of this week and then start preparing for either his fourth and final season with the Canadian Hockey League’s Victoria Royals or his first full season with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

The stocky d-man, known for his elite offensive ability, wasn’t taken in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Hicketts, though, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings in 2014.

Hicketts had a tremendous 2014-15 season with the Victoria Royals, scoring 12 goals and adding 52 assists in 62 games. That’s not to say he’s all about offence.

“I want to take that leadership role but I don’t think I change my game,” says Hicketts on what he’ll bring if he plays at the 2016 World Juniors. “I want to come back, I want to lead by example and maybe be a louder voice in the room. But I think just playing my game and making sure that I’m steady, the kind of that player who can shut down other team’s top lines. Hopefully I get a chance to play power play and some special teams this year. I want to be a big part of this team.”


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