Pronghorn duo to represent Canada
Ryan Pottruff and Dustin Moore came to the University of Lethbridge for a quality education and to continue their hockey careers. Getting an opportunity to travel to China and represent their country — that’s just an added bonus.
The Pronghorn duo will join the Canada West all-star squad that’s slated to compete in the 2009 Winter Universiade in Harbin, China, Feb. 18-28, providing another highlight in what has been a turnaround season for the men’s hockey program.
“I can’t even describe how excited I am,” Moore, a right wing out of Red Deer, Alta., says. “When (coach Greg Gatto) told me, it didn’t even set in until about two days later, and I couldn’t sleep at night. The opportunity to go and put on a Canadian jersey all the way over in China is going to be an unbelievable experience.”
It will be the first time either player has laced up for Canada, something that evokes a unique feeling of national pride.
“I’m really looking forward to experiencing what it’s like to go play overseas,” Pottruff, a defenceman out of Woodstock, Ont., says. “It’ll be amazing to see China and feel what it’s like to put on the red maple leaf and play for your country.”
The two arrived on campus just over a year ago with similar backgrounds. Each came to the Pronghorns after concluding junior hockey careers (Pottruff with London and Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League and Moore with Red Deer of the Western Hockey League) and each had a brief look at the pro game. While Moore seems more interested in taking another crack at professional hockey, Pottruff has already mapped out a career plan away from the rink.
“I had a pro experience and it wasn’t really what I wanted to do at the time,” he says of a playoff stint with the Central Hockey League’s Corpus Christi IceRays in 2007. “Right now, all I have my mind set on is getting my degree and becoming a high school gym teacher.”
While he wouldn’t rule out looking at a professional opportunity following the completion of his degree, Pottruff is squarely focused on life after hockey.
“You’ve got to know when it’s time to shut it down, and I’m not going to waste away in the East Coast league or somewhere else. I’m here to get my degree first,” he says.
Moore, in his first year of pre-management studies, would like to see his university hockey career dovetail into a pro contract overseas. To that end, playing for Canada on the world stage could be a springboard.
Coach Gatto, a member of the Pronghorns 1994-95 CIS national championship squad, did just that when he wrapped up his university career. He played two-plus seasons of professional hockey in Britain, then another four seasons of minor pro in the United States, all of which came on the heels of his appearance in the 1997 Winter Universiade in South Korea.
“For me, it was something I’d never thought of, going on a trip or holiday to Korea and I’m sure they are thinking the same way, now they get to go to China and that’s a cultural experience they otherwise never would have had,” Gatto says.
“It’s also a good opportunity to open some eyes to go play in Europe when they’re done.”
Canada is coming off a gold medal victory at the 2007 Universiade in Torino, Italy as a group of players from the Atlantic University Sport conference took the title. Moore likes the challenge of defending the crown.
“You expect to win a championship every time you put on a Canadian jersey,” he says.
GET THE FACTS
• Moore is sixth in Canada West scoring with 17 points in 16 games
• Pottruff is tied for second in Canada West defenceman scoring with 12 points in 16 games
• Canada West, Atlantic University and Ontario University conferences rotate sending players to Universiade, meaning a conference only represents Canada once every six years
• University of Alberta leads all Canada West schools with seven players on the Canadian squad
• Gatto’s 1997 Universiade team won bronze for Canada in Chonju, South Korea