After a solid season in the back-up role with the Montreal Canadiens, former Maple Leafs and Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens has made his way ‘down-under’ to Australia to play for Team Canada in the 2016 Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic in association with the not-for-profit organisation StopConcussions.
After leading Team Canada to an 8-2 Game 1 victory in Melbourne, Scrivens was named the Haigh and Hastings MVP, backed up by a strong effort in Perth for game two, lifting his side to a 6-5 shootout win.
Scrivens said he has relished the opportunity to join StopConcussions on the tour of Australia and will use the opportunity to mix hockey with an overseas holiday.
"It’s been great," he said.
"My wife and I came down a few days early so we did Sydney for two days, then Brisbane for a day and then met all the guys as they came into Melbourne.
"We had a good game in Melbourne, the score was a bit lopsided but I think the chances were pretty good both ways so I think we expected to have a bit of a closer match today, and it doesn’t get much closer than it did going to a shootout.
"After a back-to-back game, and a long travel day and I think the guys will be looking forward to relaxing and seeing what Perth has to offer for us."
Scrivens said he decided to join StopConcussions on the tour when childhood friend and former Worcester Sharks forward Tyler Gron put in a good word after playing in last years tour.
"I’d heard good thing about it [the tour] from guys in the past," he said.
"One of the guys who is on the trip right now, Tyler Gron he was on the trip last year and we grew up together, we were neighbours just down the street so it was a good chance for us to be able to play together again.
It’s been a while since we’ve had that opportunity so that was a big factor.
But I had also never been to Australia, and neither had my wife so it was a good chance for us to I guess pair hockey with a trip to see a new land and a new culture, see how things operate down here and enjoy ourselves a little bit."
As well as his starting role in net for Team Canada, Scrivens has been contributing to the Australian ice hockey scene hosting goalie clinics in different rinks throughout the country, acknowledging the potential the sport has to grow.
"The biggest thing is just getting young kids who want to play," he said.
"There was a good article that came out about Auston Matthews who is the projected first overall pick in this year's draft, he came from Scottsdale, Arizona, which is more of a hockey market than Australia but it’s in the southern United States and is more well-known for its football and golf than its hockey, so it just illustrated how he developed the skillset to play in the NHL."
"It wasn’t by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars playing on travel teams and playing at the highest level and getting flown all over the world for different things, it was using the tools he had available, small ice surfaces and one or two pucks and competition in small ice areas."
"If you can extrapolate that out, Australia has the potential to do that, maybe have a guy come through whom you just don’t really expect. It’s just a matter of young kids having the dedication to want to better themselves and push themselves because at the end of the day that’s the only way you get better, by pushing yourself."
Looking forward to the rest of the tour, Scrivens said the intensity would only continue to lift.
"If the rest of the tour goes as well as these last two games, I think not only are the players, but the fans who are coming out are in for a good show," he said.
"Overtime tonight was really exciting, then it went to a shootout and it was a close hard-fought win for us.
"I think the games going forward will be similar to that and we’re going to be tight checking as we get further along, and the teams will start to know each others tendencies and that’s going to create new dynamics, new scoring chances and everyone going to have to adapt a little bit.
"The games are going to get better, faster paced and there will be more riding on each game so it’s going to get a bit more intense."
You can check out Ben Scrivens and Team Canada in Australia for the remainder of the tour by following this link.