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Player Diaries

World Cup diary: Leon Draisaitl

Team Europe forward thrilled to prove people wrong, play in final

by Leon Draisaitl / Special to

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is playing for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The 20-year-old has agreed to keep a diary throughout the tournament, which runs through Oct. 1.

In his latest installment, Draisaitl talks about Team Europe's run to the final and how its success has played in his native Germany. Team Europe plays Team Canada on Tuesday (8 p.m., ESPN, CBC, TVA Sports) in the first game of the best-of-3 final.

This experience has been pretty crazy, I would say. I think no one really expected us to be here right now, so it's great to see how we came together as a group and how it just jelled right off the bat. I think we have so many leaders on our team that it was pretty obvious that there weren't going to be any issues on our team. All the guys are great guys. They're a lot of fun to be around. You have guys that are the same nationality and you know them, so that helps, obviously. It's just been fun. It's been pretty easy to get along with everyone.

We didn't really have any pressure to start this tournament. I think we put pressure on ourselves to be good and to show the world that we can play hockey as well. We want to be as successful as possible. It's definitely been a little different to be in this situation. With our countries, we would never have this opportunity to be in that position.

It's just so fun to see how we came together. People never really gave us a chance. So far, we've done nothing but prove people wrong and show them that we're a good team and we can play. We're going to play 'til the end. We're just all really excited to be in the final and have a shot at the title.

There's so much stuff I can learn, being here. The guys you're around, the guys you play against, this is probably the biggest hockey stage in the world. There's nothing better than a tournament like this to learn for a young guy. I'm taking everything in I can. Hopefully that'll help me in the future.

I read the online paper from Germany, so it's a pretty big deal back home in the hockey world. The guys from our national team, I'm texting them and they're like, 'This is crazy, so happy for you.' I think people start to recognize us and they're really happy for us, that we're actually a good team. It's fun to see. 

I really hope this will be good for German hockey. I hope that kids who are watching, maybe they get more into hockey. I hope that more kids start playing hockey instead of soccer or all the other sports. I think every one of our guys hopes that it does have influence back home. With qualifying for the 2018 [PyeongChang] Olympics, it's been a pretty good month for German hockey.

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