Stefan Virtanen Watches as Little Brother Captures Gold
It’s a game that will take prominence in Canadian hockey lore and for Selkirk College Saints defenceman Stefan Virtanen, last week’s Canada-Russia World Junior Championship game had extra special significance.
Stefan’s brother Jake Virtanen was a key component of the world champion juniors that triumphed over the Russians 5-4 before a packed house at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto last Monday night. The power forward delivered a couple of big hits and provided grit that helped propel the Canadian squad to the top of the world.
Stefan (left) and Jake (right) Virtanen are both pursuing different hockey pathways. This past summer, the brothers had an opportunity to be together at their Lower Mainland home during the off-season.
“I wish I could have been there, but I watched every game religiously,” says Virtanen, who is four years older than his only sibling. “It was such a big moment for our family. I talked with my parents about it, you don’t think as a parent that one of your kids is going to play for his country in a sport when you sign them up when they are five years old. My brother has worked really hard over the past couple years and he made the most of his opportunity.”
The older Virtanen watched the game on television with several of his Selkirk Saints teammates at his house in Castlegar. As he did many times in the tournament, Jake made a statement early in the gold medal final when he levelled Russian forward Vladislav Kamenev at centre ice.
“I kind of laughed when that happened… that’s what happens when people try to hit him,” Stefan says of the thundering hit. “This was a big game, I knew he would have two or three big hits and that was one of them.”
Read the full story on the Virtanen brothers at selkirk.ca.