Team Canada's National Hockey team will have a Morden flavour when they go to PyeongChang, South Korea in February for the 2018 Winter Games thanks to Chay Genoway, who currently plays for Lada Togliatti in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
"Once I finally got that call on January 10th it was an absolutely surreal moment," said Genoway. "It was joy in its purest form that's for sure."
He said having a number of family and friends make the trip to come and see him play at the Winter Games in PyeongChang is going to be the best part of the whole experience.
Genoway said he and Hockey Canada have some high expectations for this team and would like to be able to bring home a medal.
"Our expectations are to be bringing home something round, shiny and circular," said Genoway.
Genoway is thankful for all of the people who have reached out to him and congratulated him on making the team.
"It's very special for me to be from Morden and to share this with some of the people from back home is one of the most special in my career," said Genoway.
Genoway thought the NHL guys would figure out a way to make it work for them to participate. This also became a topic of discussion between the teams in Russia and KHL, because Russian's aren't allowed to participate in the games as a representative of their country. He these were some of the obstacles in the way of making it to this point, but is happy it all worked out and is able to be part of the team.
Making the NHL and representing your country is a dream many children growing up in Canada strive for.
"As my career has gone along here, and I've come over to Europe and played in the KHL, I think that dream seemed a lot more distant because they were taking the top players from the National League for that," said Genoway.
With the NHL standing pat on not sending their players to compete in the 2018 winter games in PyeongChang,, it added a little extra motivation and the dream of wearing the Maple Leaf on your sweater at the international level came back.
"Through some of these evaluation tournaments, it's been pretty fun to put that Maple Leaf on and represent your country," said Genoway.
Genoway, played his minor hockey in Morden then went on to play with the Pembina Valley Hawks, Winkler Flyers, Shattuck St. Mary's Midget Prep Team, Vernon Vipers, five years with the University of North Dakota (two as captain), AHL and NHL, Team Canada in 2016-17 at the Spengler Cup, Deutschland Cup, and various other international competitions, and most recently for the past four years he has been playing in Europe in the KHL.
"I'm just really starting to process the number of people that are going to be watching and rooting for us," said Genoway. "It's definitely tough to explain the emotion that will be involved in the event."
Teams from Sweden, Finland, United States of America, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Norway, Germany, Slovenia, Korea, and OAR (Athlete from Russia) will be competing at the games in Korea.
Canada will be in Group A alongside the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Korea. Their first game will be against the Swiss February 15th. Game two Canada will face the Czech Republic on the 17th. On February 18th Canada will play its final preliminary round game against the host Korea.
Genoway said having the chance to put on the Canadian sweater at this level is a surreal feeling.
"I think it's going to be really fun to be around the event in general, not just the hockey side of it," said Genoway. "Being able to see world-class athletes perform in other sports. I think I'm going to enjoy watching them prepare and do their thing and be a fan of other athletes."