For most, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For Brian Cheeseman, it’s old hat.
“It’s a huge honour to be selected once, let alone twice,” says the Edmonton Oil Kings athletic therapist, who for the second year in a row will work for Team Canada at the World Junior tournament.
Last year, Cheeseman was at the tournament in Finland. Even though Canada didn’t win a medal, the sights and sounds will be with Cheeseman forever.
“It was an absolutely awesome experience,” he recalls. “To see how many fans made the trek from Canada watch the games is incredible. The atmosphere was amazing. It was so loud. It didn’t matter who we were playing the round robin, it almost felt we had that home ice advantage.”
Canada actually will have home ice advantage this season, with their round robin games in Toronto and playoff games in Montreal.
Cheeseman, 35, grew up in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Even though he didn’t play hockey, he knew he wanted to be around the game.
“I always had a fascination with injuries, how they happen, why they happen, how to rehab them,” he says.
He studied kinesiology at Memorial University, then completed an athletic therapist program at Sheridan College. He worked for the Tri-City Americans and is now in his seventh season with the Oil Kings.
“I don’t consider it to be work. It’s a great place to come every day. We have great players, great coaches and staff,” says Cheeseman.
He knows fans often see him helping an injured player on the ice or on the bench, but he feels what he does behind the scenes is just as important.
“You’re almost in the position of being a big brother,” Cheeseman explains. “These guys are teenagers. They’re away from family and friends and their normal, comfortable environment. Our office doors are always open if they want to come in and talk about how their day is going, how life is going. There’s more to the job than the injuries and the equipment and everything else.”
Cheeseman will head to Quebec Thursday for the Canadian team selection camp. Canada’s first tournament game is Boxing Day against Russia.
Hear more from Brian Cheeseman on Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins from 6-8pm Wednesday night. (jrw)