St. Albert-born-and-raised NHL defenceman Nick Holden and Team Canada settled for silver at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Finland.
The unpredictable gold-medal game between Canada and tournament host-nation Finland on Sunday saw the Canadians tie the game 3-3 with less than two minutes to play in third period, forcing a three-on-three overtime.
Less than seven minutes into overtime, Sakari Manninen scored for Finland.
Canada had a 1-0 lead heading into the third period, but the Finnish team scored three unanswered after the Canadians ran into some controversial penalty trouble. Canada's Cole Sillinger was assessed a high-sticking penalty although video replay showed the Finnish player, Dallas Stars' defenceman Miro Heiskanen, was hit in the face with his own stick.
The gold-medal game was a re-match of the last year's tournament final, where Canada defeated Finland in overtime 3-2.
Czechia defeated the United States 8-4 earlier in the day to win the 2022 bronze medal.
Holden and the Canadians had a tough schedule to get to the gold-medal game. In preliminary round action, Canada won five of their seven games. They beat Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, and France while losing games to Switzerland and Denmark.
In the quarter-finals Canada beat a strong Sweden team in overtime 4-3 before sailing past Czechia in the semi-finals 6-1.
Through all 10 tournament games, Holden registered two assists and four penalty minutes. It was the first time the 35-year-old Holden had represented Canada at any level of hockey.
At the 2022 tournament Holden was joined by his Ottawa Senators teammates Drake Batherson and Thomas Chabot. In his first season with the Senators Holden played 76 games and registered five goals and 14 assists. It was Holden's most productive season offensively since the 2016-2017 campaign with the New York Rangers when he scored 11 goals and 23 assists in 80 games.
Over his career to date, Holden has played in 589 regular season NHL games with 50 career goals and 112 career assists.
Holden is under contract with the Senators for the 2022-2023 season.
Another feather in his cap
Holden's parents, John and Lynda, say they're proud of their son for representing Canada on the world stage.
"He made it to the NHL but this, especially nearing the end of his career, is quite the feather in his cap,” John said in an interview.
“It is very big and we’re very proud,” Lynda said.
To cheer for Nick at home, John and Lynda bought T-shirts with the Hockey Canada logo on the front, and had Nick's name and number put on the back. The Holdens made enough shirts for the whole family as they delivered them to Nick's grandfather, his sister Tiffany and her family, and his brother Jack and his family.
"We’re all celebrating it, but we haven’t had a big party yet,” Lynda said. As this year's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship was held in Finland, the time difference meant the Canadian team's games took place in the early morning for Alberta spectators.
Holden representing Canada for the first time comes after an NHL season that saw him be his team's nomination for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award is given "to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community," according to the NHL's website.
“To me that was a bigger feather in his cap than even playing for Canada because that speaks to the person he is,” Lynda said. "As a mom, that’s what I’m the most proud of.
“All three of our children have turned out very well, but as parents that’s your goal; [that] your kids are good people."
Each year, one player from every NHL team is nominated for the award before the league announces three finalists. Nick was the Ottawa Senators' nomination, but was not selected as a finalist.
“You do a lot of work as a parent and every parent does, so whether they’re in the NHL or whether they’re a city police officer or whether they’re a teacher, it’s very rewarding to know they’re good people,” Lynda said. Nick's brother, Jack Redlick, is a constable with the Edmonton Police Service and the head coach of St. Albert's U18 AAA Nektar Raiders. Nick's sister, Tiffany, is a junior high school teacher in Fort Saskatchewan.
“It’s a title being in the NHL, being on the Canadian team, but it’s no more rewarding as parents for any of our children. It all feels the same," Lynda said.