Draped in the flag

Draped in the flag

Vernon’s Curt Minard helps Team Canada remain perfect

Curt Minard picked up two assists in four games as Canada defended its World Standing Amputee Ice Hockey championship in Finland...

Win a world hockey championship in Finland, then spend five days vacationing in Paris with his wife.

Curt Minard’s European trip couldn’t have gone better.

The Vernon forward helped Team Canada defend its title at the World Standing Amputee Ice Hockey championship in Tampere, Finland.

Minard, 33, who had his left hand amputated at the wrist following an industrial accident in Invermere in 2008, and whose right hand suffered third degree burns, picked up two assists as Canada went a perfect 4-0 in winning its sixth World Standing Amputee title in six tries.

Canada has never lost a game in all six tournaments.

“It was an awesome tournament, unbelievable,” said Minard. “We dominated each game. The final was a little close for comfort (6-3 over the host Finns), but we felt we had the upper hand in every game. We were never behind in any period and we played really well.”

Canada opened with a 16-4 win over Latvia and followed that up with a 7-3 win over Finland, a game Minard said he scored a goal but a teammate  ended up getting credit.

“We kind of both shot at the same time,” laughed Minard. “Somehow he got credit for it. I gave him a hard time about it.”

Canada finished the round-robin with a 6-1 win over the U.S., then polished off the hosts to claim gold.

“The tournament was intense, every team was there for a reason,” said Minard. “Every team had decent quality players on it, and every game was high competition.”

Besides winning the gold medal, one of the highlights for Minard was the moment before the opening game against Latvia when he received his Team Canada jersey with his name on the back.

“That’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “It makes you look back at the journey that it took to get me to this point.

“I was nervous going into the first game, then I just wanted to get the jitters out of the way. From then on, it was just great. We had a really good bunch of guys and everybody competed really hard.”

With his family’s encouragement, Minard put on hockey equipment for the first time since his accident in September 2011, and began playing drop-in hockey three times a week at the Priest Valley Arena.

A right-handed shot, Minard’s left hand is at the top of his hockey stick so that’s where his prosthesis attaches to his stick. He has a special attachment that goes over the stick which acts as a swivel.

He credits former NHL star Dean McAmmond and former university hockey player Ryan Robertson with helping him get ready enough to try out for, and earn a spot on, the national team.

“Those guys really took the time to spend with me and help me develop my skills, especially Dean,” said Minard. “He has that expertise of having played 15 years in the NHL, he’s a winger, like me, and he really simplified the game.”

After Finland, he and his wife, Danielle, took a Paris vacation to unwind before returning home to their two boys in Vernon.

Minard, who plans to try out again for the national team for the seventh world championships, to be held in 2014 in the U.S., also thanked Sun Valley Source For Sports for helping with his hockey needs, Priest Valley Physio for maintaining the function of his right hand, and his family and friends for their unconditional support.