It was a long month away from home for Cal Foote.
One that comes with absolutely no regrets for the 19-year-old Kelowna Rockets’ defenceman.
Foote and his Canadian teammates, including Rockets’ teammate Dillon Dube, celebrated a gold medal victory on Friday night at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.
Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-1 in the final game, giving this country its first world junior title since 2015.
On Sunday back home in Kelowna, Foote was still basking in the glow of his first international gold medal.
“It sure hasn’t worn off, the feeling of winning is amazing,” said Foote. “To win it with a great group of players like we did, with all the staff members, it’s something I’m sure I’ll never forget.
“It was a long haul but it couldn’t have ended any better. I’m thankful for the experience.”
While Foote arrived back in Kelowna late Saturday, Dube, Canada’s team captain, flew directly to Calgary to spend a few days with his family in Cochrane, AB.
Both players will be in the lineup Wednesday at Prospera Place when the Rockets host the Spokane Chiefs.
With dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, Foote, an Englewood, CO, native had the option of playing with either country at the world juniors.
The Rockets’ captain said based on his family’s history, choosing Canada was an easy decision. For starters, his dad, Adam Foote won a gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“I grew up in a Canadian home, my parents are Canadian-born, so it’s in my blood,” said Foote. “I grew up as a fan cheering for Team Canada, I always stuck to the TV, so it wasn’t really a hard decision at all.”
While Foote was aware of the importance of the world junior tournament growing up, pulling on his country’s jersey as a player gave him an added perspective of the gravity of the event for so many Canadians.
“It’s huge for Canadians,” he said. “We had tons of support, you could feel it through the whole tournament. They were all like home games for us, even the outdoor game. People were watching all across the country. We really appreciated the support.”
Foote registered three assists in the tournament, but perhaps his defining moment was a diving save in the crease against Finland to prevent a goal. Canada went on to win the game 4-2.
Foote and Dube will be honoured by the Rockets prior to Wednesday night’s game against Spokane.