For Jack Quinn, the World Junior Championships are a longtime coming in a season full of questions. While surely, it’s his first Hockey Canada event, a familiar face helps to put him at ease. The Canadian Juniors arrived in Red Deer late Tuesday, where the team will play out the next 51 days.
They’ll do so while following strict protocols, which includes wearing masks at all times and social distancing. While challenges can be expected, Quinn said it’s the little things to ensure optimum safety. “It’s a bit of a different year. With all the protocols and the stuff we’ve had to adapt to in regards to COVID-19, it’s a challenge.”
Quinn entered Westerner Park Centrium having signed his contract with the Sabres on Monday. While this represents the next step for him, Quinn acknowledged the moment amid his first World Juniors experience. “It’s special to get it done.”
Having spent the last two seasons with the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL, the forward has learnt what is expected of him, from not only the fans, but head coach Andre Tourigny. With that sense of chemistry intact, Quinn hit the ice in Red Deer with a sense of assurance.
“I know what he expects in practice, what he expects from games. The little things and the system as well. I know things but I have to show up and execute.” However, like his many teammates, that comes at a price with no action for seven months. Despite the hiatus in play, the right-winger knows there is a job to get done.
Skating for the first time since March, Quinn spoke of the change he has endured in daily regimen. With no OHL action to turn to, the native of Cobden has had to keep himself going. Antsy to re-establish a pattern, he said of his efforts back at home during quarantine, “Sticking to the offseason routine. Not getting complacent and staying on track with workouts and skates.”
Returning to the ice on Tuesday, Quinn said, “It’s the most intense skate I’ve done in awhile today.” Away from his team through the summer, he did get work in, but in limited fashion. With COVID measures well in effect, arenas and gyms were hard to come by, as bookings quickly tightened with one hour time slots.
For many, with that in mind, this meant getting creative with their own home-built gyms. For Quinn, this wasn’t discouraging, with opportunity still there to keep training and stay in shape. Allowing him to only get better, Quinn said of the changes and alterations he made, “I think I improved my skating a lot this summer, with that long of an offseason, I was able to, you know, kind of develop my legs a little more and add some explosiveness, and with that, also be a little more stable on my feet to, you know, fight guys off in battles and that kind of thing, and you know, also continue to work on my strengths like my shot and my stick handling as well.”
Now out in the World Juniors bubble, Quinn looks to apply this to his daily performance. Speaking on the end of himself and his fellow competitors on the change for Selection Camp, Quinn noted that the 51 days, which officially starts Wednesday, will be taken in strides. “Better for everyone that the camp is longer than it’s shorter. Gives everyone a chance to get their legs under them and show their game over a period of time.”
With practice set to start Wednesday morning, coach Andre Tourigny knows what he brings to the table. “A guy who competes. Jack is a helluva player. I know him well and know what he can do. I could feel the nerves and his emotion. He will settle down and get more comfortable. Super smart kid,” Canada’s bench boss said.
With chemistry and comfort of importance, the 19-year-old will continue to adjust as things start to shape up, both on and off the ice. The team is staying at a nearby hotel, though at this time, Quinn does not have a roommate. Mentioning the layout at hand, he applauded Hockey Canada for prioritizing their safety.
While the next few weeks mark only the starting line, Quinn, much like his counterparts, are seeing the positives in this enhanced opportunity. “We’re looking at it as an advantage. A lot of us don’t know each other. This long with all the guys is awesome to get to know them and the systems they are playing. It’s a big advantage.”