Any young hockey player to ever pick up a stick shares the dream to one day don the Maple Leaf and represent Canada on the international stage.
So it's not surprising that 19-year-old Winnipegger Dylan Pascoe couldn't quite find the words to describe his elation when he got the call to suit up for Team Canada at the Under-20 World Ball Hockey Championship later this month.
"The coach probably thought I was an idiot cause I couldn't get any words out," he said in a recent interview. "There was just so many emotions."
Pascoe will join the 22-man team in the Czech Republic a couple of weeks before playing their first scheduled game June 19.
"It's a great honour and very nerve-racking," said Pascoe. "I didn't think this would ever be an option (to play for Team Canada)."
It may not be exactly what Pascoe pictured when dreaming of playing hockey for his country, but he's grateful that a game he's grown up playing has evolved to where it is today.
In the past two years ball hockey in Manitoba has transformed from a battle on the street to a fully regulated and highly scouted sport played in arenas across the city.
And for the 6-foot-2 Pascoe and company, the timing couldn't be better.
Pascoe is one of four Manitobans that will take part in the tournament hosted by the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation. Ryan Hutton and Kallan Kastes have been selected to play for the under-16 junior team and Remi Laurencelle will be joining the under-18 club.
Pascoe was first introduced to the game by a group of friends who said it was a good way to stay in shape. When asked what his friends think about his recent accomplishment, he laughed and claimed, "They razz me a little and give me the gears, but are proud of what I've accomplished."
Pascoe began playing for a local St. Norbert team in 2010 as part of the Manitoba Ball Hockey League. His quickness at the back-end soon caught the eye of local scouts and after only a year he was asked to play for Team Manitoba.
Months later he got the nod for first team all-star, taking one of two spots allotted for defencemen, at the Under-19 Provincial Ball Hockey Championships in Saskatoon.
Pascoe now looks to add to his resumé by capturing gold for his country, a familiar finish for Canada at the world level.
Since the bi-annual tournament began in 2000, Canada has captured three of a possible five gold medals including top prize at the last contest in 2010. The under-16 and under-18 teams are relatively new to the tournament, joining for the first time in 2008, but despite a late start, they have been the teams to beat. The two teams have combined for three gold medals and one silver.
"It's super high expectations," said Pascoe. "I think we'll do good but there are a lot of good teams in the tournament."
Slovakia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and the U.S. are just a few of the teams looking to knock Canada from top spot on the podium.
But hockey won't be the only thing on Pascoe's mind.
Once the tournament has come to an end he plans to extend his adventure for another three weeks where he will meet up with his two best friends to travel.
"I'm really excited, not too many of my friends will be in Europe this summer."
And even less will live the boyhood dream of playing for their country.
The ball shinny skinny
The Tournament is hosted by the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF).
It runs from June 19-23 in Pisek and Strakonice, Czech Republic.
Canada has three teams in the tournament (under-16, U-18, U-20).
An orange ISBHF-approved ball is used.
The game consists of three 15-minute periods of running time.
The "icing" rule is referred to as "flooring."
The game has a "floating blue-line" which is an expansion of the offensive zone to the red-line once a team crosses the blue-line with the ball.
Once the defensive team sends the ball past centre, the blue-line is reset.