A Salmon Arm Secondary grad and Sicamous resident lived a hockey player’s dream, representing Canada in an international competition.
Josh Olson graduated from SAS in 2019 and has risen through the ranks of minor and junior hockey leagues to be a part of Team Canada at the 2023 World Cup of University Hockey. The games were played in Romania April 14-19.
Olson began playing hockey at the age of five in Sylvan Lake, Alta. His family moved to Salmon Arm in 2009, and he continued to play with the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association, said Olson’s mother Patricia.
At 15, he started on his junior hockey journey as an alternate player for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. He impressed on the ice and was appraoched by the Sicamous Eagles, signing with the Junior B team at 16.
After two full seasons with the Eagles, Olson was traded back to the Grizzlies for the 2019-2020 season. He only played eight games with Revelstoke before requesting a trade to the Princeton Posse.
He then continued his upward trajectory in the hockey world, playing a year with Princeton and getting to the second round of playoffs before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the season. In 2020 he was picked up by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for four games as an affiliated player, where he earned his first BC Hockey League assist. He then played two seasons with the Merritt Centennials Junior A team before aging out at 20 years old.
After being approached by five university teams, Olson chose to attend Missouri State University for 2022-2023, and is currently finishing his first year.
“I’ve played in a lot of different locations, but this being my first time in America and being able to live my own life here and really mature into an adult I think has helped with hockey as well. It kind of worked well together,” said Olson.
With the Missouri State Ice Bears, playing 31 games and posting 29 points, Olson impressed World Cup coaches and was asked to play on Team Canada in the University Hockey tournament in Romania.
“There was no hesitation in his decision to play for the team,” said Patricia.
Olson first practised with the team in Albany, New York in early April before flying to Bucharest, Romania and driving four hours north to Carta for the tournament. There were teams from eight countries participating, from the U.S., Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Romania and Canada. Games were played on standard European rinks, which Patricia said are about 13 feet wider then NHL rinks.
Team Canada lost their first game in overtime to the Romanian team 5-4, and won their second game against Poland 10-3. The third game against the Czech Republic saw Canada come back from a two-goal deficit, scoring three goals in under two minutes near the end of the third period to win 5-4, and game four against Slovakia was a 6-2 win, securing a place in the final game against the U.S.
“That was quite a dream come true,” said Olson. “It was really cool over there, they gave us superstar status. Little kids looking at you like you’re Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. And it was a small town, so I wasn’t expecting that, but around 3,000 people came out to every game.”
Team USA beat Canada 4-0 in the gold medal game, but Olson said he was very proud to have brought home a silver medal.
Olson lives in Sicamous whenever he is not attending school or playing hockey. Asked about his next steps, he wants to continue to play university hockey and finish his degree. He then hopes to get an opportunity to play professional hockey in Europe.
“It’s definitely something I’ll never forget. That’s a core memory for the rest of my life.”