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After racist remark, Surrey goalie savours ball hockey gold with Team Canada

'I used that as motivation to be my best, especially in the finals,' says Aalamdaya Kailay, 18

Canada's U18 boys ball hockey team enjoyed a golden trip home from the ISBHF world championships, played in Slovakia over four days ending Sunday, July 7.

Backstopped by goaltender Aalamdaya Kailay, a Surrey resident, Team Canada beat Team USA in the final, 5-1, in sauna-like conditions at an arena in Zilina.

On Wednesday (July 10), a few of the seven B.C.-based players celebrated with their trophy at North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex on the first day of another tournament there, Western Challenge Cup.

In Slovakia, Kailay, 18, managed to shake off a xenophobic comment to allow just one goal in the final game and earn best-goalie honours at the six-team tournament.

"It was at the opening ceremonies, when I was chosen to be the flag-bearer. I was very honoured to do that," Kailay recalled.

"I waved the flag a bit and some kid on the U16 USA ball hockey team, he was standing right there and says in front of me, in front of my whole team, 'You're not even from Canada.'"

Kailay said he shrugged off the comment, at first.

"But then when we were playing the Americans, especially in that last round-robin game and also in the finals, that's when I used that as motivation to be my best, especially in the finals."

Coach Jon Silcox, who also lives in Surrey, said he was extremely proud of Aalam, as the goalie is known to teammates.

"I was pretty emotional during the opening ceremonies when that comment was made," Silcox said. "As a coach, you feel like you want to defend your players at all times and you feel helpless at that moment. But I asked him if he was OK and he told me that the actions would speak louder than words when it came time to game time. He rose above and he put the team on his back and played unreal in that final game.

"He just kind of put it behind him and did his job," the coach added. "He's everything that you would want in a player who represents the Canadian Ball Hockey Association and wears the jersey proudly. Not just him, all of the other players too."

The Team Canada roster included 22 players plus three coaches, general manager and staff.

"It feels really good to win, and the boys put in a lot of preparation," Silcox said. "We end up losing our first game to the Czech Republic and knew that from then on, we'd be on life-support during the tournament, and we worked really hard and paid a lot of attention to detail.

"When the final horn went and we had the 5-1 win and the boys poured over the bench, there was tears in my eyes," he added. "As a coach, you want success for your team more than anything. It felt really good to see them capture something they've been working on and also fulfill a lifelong goal for a lot of ball hockey players to wear that Canadian jersey, lift a trophy at the end and win a gold medal."

Kailay, who will study at UBC next fall, said North Surrey is his "home rink" for hockey.

"I've been playing in goal since I was, like, five years old, playing with my older brother and older cousin since I started walking, street hockey with them," he said. "They forced me in net. I hated it at the start, but now I love it."

Winning gold with Team Canada is huge, he added.

"Going out and representing your country makes you want to run through a wall, right? It's my first time playing at the national level, and it was actually my first time being in Europe too. It was amazing."

In addition to Kailay, Team Canada's 22-player roster included Carter Arnold, Jack Barrington, Kainoah Brankovic, Jaden Bulmer, Mason Burke, James Zazula Campbell, Kyle Greene, Maxx Hamelin, Will Hopcraft, Andy Knight, Jackson Lovett, Taylor Mackie, Trey Markus, Liam Noble (named tournament MVP), Brandon Osborne (tournament allstar), Austin Pacik, Dustin Putos, Jack Schierau, Ryan Scott, Griffin Tarling and Kyle Tucker.

In the final, the five goal-scorers were Knight, Brankovic, Lovett, Hamelin and Tucker; Kailay made 20 saves for the gold-medal win.






Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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