Baumuller Returns From U17 With Gold Medal, More Confidence
Article Courtesy Perry Bergson
Brandon Wheat Kings rookie forward Joby Baumuller is hoping he’s bringing back some intangibles to go with the gold medal he earned at the World U17 Hockey Challenge on Saturday.
The 16-year-old forward from Wilcox, Sask., had a chance to play against other 2007-born players at the international event in Summerside and Charlottetown, P.E.I., with the added bonus of his Canada White squad beating the United States in the final.
“It was pretty nice to go back and build some confidence and get some stuff to bring back and use in this league,” said Baumuller, who had a goal and three assists at the six-team event.
The tournament started on Nov. 2, with White falling 4-3 to Czechia in a shootout, and they lost 4-3 to Canada Red the next day. While it wasn’t the start they wanted, head coach John Dean told his players the tournament was a long way from over.
“You can’t win gold on the first day,” Baumuller said. “That’s the one things our coaches always told us. Each day he told us we would improve more and more if we focused on little things like neutral zone, D-zone, O-zone, stuff like that and getting to know our basics, simple stuff that got us to move further ahead in the tournament.”
Canada White edged Sweden 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 4 for their first win, topped the Americans 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 5 and fell to 5-3 to Finland on Nov. 7 to end the round-robin.
Baumuller skated on a line with Brandonite Cole Temple of the Regina Pats, who he knew because they previously played spring hockey together at age 12, and Caleb Desnoyers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats. Desnoyers, a 16-year-old product of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., was the first overall pick in the 2023 QMJHL draft.
“It was a great experience,” Baumuller said of skating with Temple. “We both knew what each other play like and what we can do to be with each other.”
In the quarterfinals the next day, they beat Canada Red 3-2 to propel them into the semifinals. They went into that game against Sweden as underdogs but emerged with a dominant 6-1 victory.
“Our coach came in and said all we have to do is prove everyone wrong,” Baumuller said. “We basically went out there and worked hard and did the little things and improved day by day and I think that’s what got us through the semifinal.”
That earned Canada White a date against the United States in the final on Saturday.
Just 98 seconds into the game, Baumuller scored his first goal of the event on a pass from Ethan Czata to give his team the early lead.
“It was so nice,” Baumuller said. “It was kind of a relief since I hadn’t scored in the whole tournament, so it was nice to get the first one in the gold medal game. It gave the boys kind of a jump start to the game. It was really good. It got everyone going.”
Charlie Trethewey scored a power-play goal for the Americans midway through the third period to tie the game 1-1, sending it to overtime. Canada’s golden goal came off the stick of Vancouver Giants forward Cameron Schmidt, who scored his fifth goal of the tournament.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Baumuller said of the feeling. “It was amazing. Cameron Schmidt on the breakaway, I mean the whole tournament he was unreal on breakaways so we kind of already knew it was probably going to be game at that point. It was just a great experience to win gold with a great group of guys.”
It wasn’t his first big tournament experience, since he was picked up by the under-18 Notre Dame Hounds and played in the 2022 Telus Cup national championship in Okotoks, Alta. Brandon head coach and general manager Marty Murray said it should be a big help for Baumuller.
“That’s a huge confidence builder,” Murray said. “I remember going through the same process — it wasn’t the same tournament back when I was that young — but just to get playing with your peers and get some confidence goes a long way. When you’re playing all the way to the final and the championship, that’s some pressure hockey. Good on him to get the opportunity to play there and come out on top. It’s a huge honour to represent your country and to win gold is a big accomplishment.”
Now it’s a matter of bringing it back to Brandon. Baumuller was called up for 11 games last season, and had a pair of goals and an assist. In 11 games this season, he’s without a point, but that comes with a giant caveat.
“He got his bell rung in pre-season and missed the entire pre-season, and I felt like he was really coming along and then he twisted his knee and missed some time,” Murray said. “He got back into a rhythm and then it was time to go to Team Canada. He hasn’t really been into a routine or a rhythm with us. At the end of the day, it was a good time for him to get out and get in those situations where he could play a lot. “Hopefully that’s a confidence builder for him.”
Baumuller said after practice on Tuesday it would be nice to post 20 points this season, and he potentially has 47 games games left to earn them.
He’s hoping his international experience will help get him there.
“You just have to focus on the next game,” Baumuller said. “Hopefully I bring back some confidence into my game here and I play my game and try to be myself, not anybody else.”