Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts wins gold on world stage

World championship gold has helped D-man Joe Hicketts separate himself as a top Western Hockey League prospect for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft

World championship gold has helped Victoria Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts begin to separate himself as a top Western Hockey League prospect going into the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Hicketts helped Team Canada’s win gold at the Under-18 world championship Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Canada defeated Team USA 4-0 in the final on Saturday.

Despite picking up just two assists in the tournament, Hicketts factors in many of the highlights.

Hicketts was named an alternate captain by coach Dale Hunter prior to the tournament and played a key role on the team’s top defensive pairing with captain Aaron Ekblad.

“It feels amazing,” Hicketts said on TSN after the win. “To be part of a tradition that has won six (Ivan Hlinka championships) in a row and continued the history of that tradition is amazing.”

The win is Hicketts’ first international gold medal.

Canada went 2-1 in pool play and defeated Russia 3-1 in the semifinal on Friday to advance to the gold medal game.

Earlier in 2013 Hicketts suited up for Team Canada in two exhibition games at the 2013 IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Sochi, Russia as an underager.

This summer he was ranked among the early group of WHL prospects by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service to be followed for the 2014 draft.

The Kamloops kid was captain of Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and was also captain of Team Canada at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, winning bronze.

Hicketts scored 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 67 games as the Royals’ rookie-of-the-year in 2012-13.