Jimmies' Susinski, Fortin win silver for Canada at WCOUH
Fortin and Susinski are the first-ever Jimmies to play at the international tournament.
CARTA, Romania – When Brad Fortin and Greg Susinski walked off the plane in Carta, Romania, to participate in the 2023 World Cup of University Hockey, they met some of the players from Minot State University who they usually hate, but for a week in mid-April, the rivals turned into teammates.
“When we got off the plane, the Minot guys, they were on a flight that got in at right about the same time,” Susinski said. “So, they were actually the first guys we met from the team and yeah there was some fun chirps back and forth because of the rivalries there. As soon as we got there, we just became best friends.”
Fortin and Susinski played for the silver-medalists Canada from April 14 through April 19. During the tournament, Fortin had four goals and two assists for six points in five games. Susinski didn’t record a goal but he had four assists in the five games. In Canada’s five games, Susinski assisted on one of Fortin’s goals, and one goal scored by a Beaver.
“I just played hard and tried to do the best I could,” Fortin said. “I was playing with some amazing players that definitely made some things easy for me and it was nice.”
The six Beavers that Fortin and Susinski were playing alongside were not the only familiar faces as they also played alongside three players from Ohio University. The Bobcats ended the Jimmies season in the ACHA quarterfinals. Both Fortin and Susinski said the way the Jimmies season ended fueled them heading into this tournament.
“Yeah, kind of tough way to end the season there in Jamestown and having a second chance to play and prove something was really cool,” Fortin said. “(It) definitely motivated me.”
Susinski said playing with the familiar faces in their rivals in the Beavers and Bobcats took a couple of games to adjust to but once they figured each other out, it became easier.
“It was pretty cool to play with a bunch of guys that I’ve played against and you appreciate how good they are when you watch them in practice; when you get to watch them instead of play against them,” Susinski said.
In the months since the Jimmies season ended, Fortin said he was working to stay in shape to get ready for the tournament. Fortin said he could see the skill and speed of the game pick up at the tournament compared to the games that the Jimmies play.
Both players were told that they made the team when they were home with their families the day after Christmas. Susinski said it was a great experience to get that call while he was home so he could immediately tell his loved ones.
Susinski said putting on the jersey for your country is unlike putting on any other jersey. Susinski is from Calgary, Alberta and Fortin is from Langley, British Columbia.
“It’s something you dream about,” Susinski said. “It’s a huge honor and it’s something I really cherished. It’s something that I’ll never forget. You put it on and you realize that you’re not only just playing for yourself, your team, your family, you’re playing for an entire country and they’re all behind you. So, yeah it was pretty exciting.”
Despite falling short of winning the ultimate prize in the gold medal, Susinski said he was excited to have won the silver medal. He added a disclaimer though that if he gets another chance to go to the tournament it will drive him to strive for the ultimate prize.
During the Jimmies season, Fortin and Susinski combined to play in 60 games scoring a combined 25 goals and 42 assists for 67 points. As a result, the two are very familiar with each other, which Fortin said helped them during the tournament.
“It was awesome,” Fortin said. “It was nice having Greg along for sure, definitely traveling to Albany with him, any questions I had I’d definitely talk to Greg about as well. Greg’s a great player and it was definitely nice having him along as well.”
The duo’s time in the Baltic country was not entirely spent on the ice as they also had some time to explore Carta and the surrounding area.
“We got to go around and explore and go see the town of Carta and some guys went for a drive to see some castles in a local town as well,” Fortin said. “It was really cool, the town here is very very nice and everyone is willing to help and super nice and accepting to us being here.”
Fortin, who will be a sophomore when the Jimmies drop the puck for the 2023-24 season, said he is using this tournament as motivation heading into next season.
“Everything’s a learning opportunity, definitely try to grow from it and take it into next season where we hope to win a national championship at Jamestown,” Fortin said.
Susinski barely had to think about whether or not he would play in the tournament again.
“Yeah for sure, without a doubt. I’d love to do it again,” Susinski said. “It’s something that I definitely enjoyed, definitely take a big honor in putting that Maple Leaf on so I’d love to do it again.”