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Sillinger follows father’s footsteps to worlds

The youngest member of Team Canada, Cole Sillinger has the legacy of his father to contend with at the IIHF World Championship, but it is a challenge he is happy to take on

Lee Boyadjian
May 21, 2022

For Cole Sillinger, being named to Team Canada just shy of his 19th birthday was the icing on the cake for an impressive rookie season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. But what made it all the sweeter, was knowing he achieved the honour 10 years earlier in his career than his famous father.

And Mike couldn’t be prouder.

“He’s way ahead of the game, playing in the NHL at the age of 18 and having a chance to represent his country at the worlds,” Mike said on the day the team’s roster was announced. “We’ll be watching, we don’t care what time the game is, we’ll be watching.”

This is the second time the youngest of the three Sillinger boys has been named to a Canadian roster for a world championship, though only the first time he’s been able to play. Last year, a late COVID-19 diagnosis forced him away from Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team, which ultimately went on to win a gold medal at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas.

So when Rick Nash, Canada’s assistant general manager – and director of player development with the Blue Jackets – offered Cole a spot on the worlds team during his NHL season exit meeting, he jumped at the chance.

“[Nash] said I didn’t have to give him my answer right away, but I gave it to him right away because obviously anytime that you have a chance to represent Canada, you’re going to want to do it and do it proudly,” Cole explains.

“Anytime you get a chance to represent your country, it’s something that you really look forward to,” Mike said. “It’s a great chance to meet new guys and build that camaraderie while playing for that flag on the front of your jersey.

“It’s pretty awesome.”

The 2000 version of Team Canada finished just shy of a medal, falling 2-1 to Finland in the bronze medal game. Mike had three goals in nine games as captain.

In the first four games of the 2022 event, Cole has already distinguishing himself as a goal scorer, having found the back of the net twice. Though even with that early success, he doesn’t think there will much joking with his dad until the games are done, knowing his father earned a gold medal at the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“I don’t think there is any chirping going to be done until I have a chance to [win a gold medal],” he laughs. “[Mike is] amazing, I’ve had so much support from him and one of the things I’ve appreciated about him is, just because he had his career, he understands there’s no extra doors open for my brothers and me and it’s just time for us to create our own path.”

Mike’s career spanned 1,049 games over 18 NHL seasons with 12 teams. Sillinger’s older brothers, Owen and Lukas, have had success in the NCAA, and Owen finished the season with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.

The Sillinger home clearly was – and is – a hockey house. Though Cole says hockey didn’t come first in his childhood home, competition did.

“Whether it was golf or working out or even just who is going to eat dinner first, we’re super competitive,” he explains.

“Cole is just very driven and is mature beyond his age and obviously that comes from being around his brothers and a team environment,” Mike said. “I didn’t think he’d get a chance [to play for Canada] right away at the age of 18 but he had a pretty good year, and it takes different pieces to build a team and he can play in different situations.”

“For me, I just want to help the team anyway I can,” Cole says. “I think that’s the goal when you put the Maple Leaf on is to forget about where you played on your club team and … just leave your ego at the door and do anything you can to help win.”

Which is the ultimate goal of this event for Canada and Cole, come home with a gold medal. That way, he’ll already be even in the medal count with his dad and still have a long career in which to surpass him.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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