Describing his experience as “fantastic”, Jackson Keane is living the hockey dream, suiting up for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge underway at Kindersley, SK.
“It’s always special when you pull on the Canada maple leaf jersey,” said the Winnipeg Blues’ sophomore. “There’s a lot of highly skilled players here. All the teams are really deep (in talent) in their lineup.”
“The games are fast and highly competitive. It’s fun to be part of this.”
Keane and teammates played a long-time arch rival of Canada on Tuesday ─ Team Russia. It was a game which the Maple Leaf crew learned a valuable language lesson.
“They (Russians) were big and very skilled,” Keane said of 3-2 Canada West victory. “We tried to get under their skin verbally, but we got away from that when we kind of figured out they didn’t understand what we were saying.
“We stuck to our game plan of being physical against them … taking away their time and space. It was a fun game.”
Despite being pointless after two games, Keane, 17, is fully aware of the role expected of him. He’s playing on a line with former Winnipeg Blue Kurt Keats (Powell River, BCJHL) and Sheldon Rempal (Nanaimo, BCJHL).
“We’ve had our chances,” Keane said with a laugh. “Hit a couple of posts, forced the play… we’re not an overly big line, but we know our job is to provide energy.”
While Keane and Keats were never teammates with the Blues, they are familiar with each other, having attended St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg.
Despite having no points, Keane doesn’t need a GPS to find the net. This season with the Blues he’s produced 35 points (12-23) in 28 games. A nifty centreman, Keane has always found a way to score and contribute offensively.
Meanwhile off the ice, Canada West is doing the usual team-building exercises.
“We went to a school in Kindersley the other day,” said Keane. “We met a lot of the students, it was a lot of fun. We also went bowling, it was all in fun. It got pretty competitive in a fun way.”
This is Keane’s second go-around with Hockey Canada, having played in the U-17 last year.
“It’s always special to pull on the maple leaf,” says Keane, who inherited his hockey skills honestly, being the son of former NHLer Mike Keane.