Nic Petan of North Delta scored a game-winning goal at the Under-18 World Championship tournament in Slovakia.

Winning gold for Canada

Nic Petan competes at world championship tournament in Slovakia

Nic Petan didn’t have much time to reflect on a unique trip to Slovakia last week.

The 17 year-old North Delta native was a member of Team Canada, which won gold at the World Under-18 World Championship tournament. But two days after his return to the Lower Mainland, he was travelling once again, driving to Oregon for training camp with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks.

“All in all, (playing at the worlds) will help,” said Petan Wednesday morning from just south of Seattle on his way to Portland. “I learned to stick with the simple plays, because if you make a mistake it’s a goal against you.”

Petan has worn the Team Canada jersey before, playing at the World Under-17 Challenge tournament a year ago. But in that event, Canada sends five teams to compete with five European national teams. Petan was a member of Team Pacific in 2011, earning a bronze medal.

“It’s a little different. At the under-17’s, you’re competing against the rest of Canada,” said Petan. “In this tournament, you’re playing with the best players in the country, and against the rest of the world. The guys came from all over, like Quebec and Ontario, but we came together real well.”

Canada won all five games in the tournament last week, defeating Finalnd 4-0 in Saturday’s championship game.

“It was an incredible experience, it was such an honour to play on a team with the best players in Canada,” he said.

“There’s a lot of big players, and a lot of talent. And everyone is really good.

I had a slow start, but once I got going, I got into it pretty good.”

Petan, a self-described two-way forward, had his best offensive output of the competition in a 5-2 win over the home team in Breclav, Czech Republic, the only game Canada played outside Slovakia. Petan scored the winning goal, and assisted on one other.

“Scoring that goal was great, you get a feeling that you’ve helped the team out,” he said. “There’s really no other words to describe it.”

Petan will be starting his second season with the Winterhawks next month, coming off a season in which he scored 14 goals and 35 points in 61 games. Looking ahead, he’s shooting for a 30-goal campaign in 2012-13. But it might be hard at times to not look back.

“It was an incredible feeling, knowing you’re representing Canada. It was the best feeling in the world.”

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