Blyth native earns bronze medal in PyeongChang Olympics - March 1, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Blyth native Justin Peters is now back home after 26 hours of travel with an Olympic bronze medal around his neck.
Peters and the rest of the Canadian men’s hockey team lost a heartbreaking game to Germany in the semifinals, setting up a bronze-medal game against the Czech Republic, a team that had beaten them in the round-robin stage.
The Canadians, however, were determined to come home with medals around their necks and won the bronze handily, by a score of 6-4. A team comprised of Olympic athletes from Russia beat the Germans in the final to win the gold.
The Citizen last touched base with the Peters family last week, just ahead of the team’s quarterfinal game against Finland. In the first period, starting goalie Ben Scrivens was hit hard by a Finnish player and would eventually have to be removed from the game. This paved the way for Peters, the team’s third goalie, to dress and make his way to the bench for the first time in the tournament, backing up second-string goalie Kevin Poulin.
“[Scrivens] would have to come out of the game, so I immediately headed to the locker room to start to get dressed,” Peters said in a Tuesday morning e-mail to The Citizen. “So, there I was for the third period on the bench in the back-up role. We squeaked out a nail-biter 1-0 to move onto the semifinals.”
Peters said that the schedule was pretty busy for the members of the team during competition, so despite several members of his family making the trip – his parents Jeff and Janice, his father-in-law Harold, brother-in-law Mark and Mark’s girlfriend Krysten – he wasn’t able to spend much time with them. When he was able to see his loved ones, however, it was special.
“I managed to meet up with my parents for dinner at a Korean barbecue spot. We were also able to meet at the Canada house for a poutine and a burger,” Peters said. “[The team was] able to watch the third period and overtime of the women’s hockey gold medal game [between Canada and the U.S.]. We practised on the practise sheet, which was part of the same building, during the first two periods, quickly changed and headed up to take in the rest.”
Ahead of the semifinal game against Germany, Peters said it was an absolute honour to wear the Canadian jersey, backing up Poulin in such an important game in Canadian hockey history.
“I was again on the bench in the back-up role for [the semifinal game against Germany]. To be able to put on the Canadian Olympic jersey was an absolute dream,” Peters said.
Peters said that the Germans came out firing in that game, the Canadians couldn’t get anything going and were unable to overcome their slow start, resulting in a 4-3 loss and a date with the Czech Republic in the bronze-medal game.
“Obviously there was major disappointment after the loss to Germany. It was a quiet bus ride back to the Athletes Village,” Peters said. “Our bronze-medal game against the Czechs was the next night, so we needed to regroup quickly, both physically and mentally, get into the right mindframe and realize the opportunity we had to play for an Olympic medal and make sure we didn’t make the same mistake by coming out of the gate like we did against the Germans.”
The team rebounded and “came out flying” in the bronze-medal game. Peters was dressed and on the bench once again for this game, during which the Canadians scored an early goal and never looked back.
“What an amazing feeling celebrating after we won together on the ice. We were presented the medals on the ice as a team and then I got to head up after the game and share the medal with my parents,” he said. “It was amazing to have my parents with me to share in the moment. I was able to FaceTime with [wife] Kelly and [children] Logan and Nora back home to share the medal with them. We headed back to the locker room and had some champagne. Then we packed up and headed on our way to celebrate as a team.”
Peters said he can’t wait to be back in Ontario for the summer and to reach out to all of his friends and supporters to celebrate together.
“Thanks to all my family and friends back home for following along and reaching out. I look forward to sharing the medal with everyone back home this summer.”
In a Monday morning e-mail to The Citizen, Justin’s father Jeff said he was having a hard time describing the emotion he was feeling.
“Watching Justin win bronze was pretty cool. The game was a blast and we watched the medal ceremony right after the game. The craziest part after the game was being with the friends and family hanging out at Gate 12 to see the players,” Jeff said. “Many players would come up the elevator in tears to hug their wives and families, all crying so happy and proud. It was pretty cool to watch that first-hand. It meant the world to them to represent their country. It wasn’t taken lightly by any means.”
Not only did Jeff and Janice take in all of the men’s hockey games, but also the women’s gold medal game and a number of other events while they were in South Korea. For the bronze medal game, however, Jeff said it was inspiring to see so many of the Canadian athletes take the time to come and watch the game and cheer on their fellow Canadians.