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Canada's Maxime Comtois rests his head on his glove after losing to Finland during overtime quarter-final IIHF world junior hockey championship action in Vancouver, B.C., on Jan. 2, 2019.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

A devastating quarter-final loss at the world junior hockey championship must act as motivation for the members of Team Canada, the squad’s captain says.

“We’ve got to move forward,” Maxime Comtois, the only returning member from last year’s gold medal-winning group, said after a 2-1 overtime loss to Finland on Wednesday night.

“This is going to help us in the long run as individuals. We’ve got to take it as a man and move forward.”

This year’s players gave everything they had, Comtois said.

Coach Tim Hunter agreed, saying the players went hard the entire game against Finland.

“We played a great game start to finish. And it just didn’t work out,” he said.

As a result, Canada will not receive a medal for the second time in four years. But it’s just the second time in 21 years Canada will not play for a medal.

The result is difficult to take, Hockey Canada chief executive Tom Renney said.

“We want to be the best team playing the game. It doesn’t always happen that way,” he said.

“I think we worked really hard, I thought we were organized, I thought we did all the things we needed to do to give ourselves the best chance to win. At the end of the day, you saw a bunch of teenagers doing everything they possibly could to do something special in their homeland.”

Canada had a strong start to the tournament, notching a 14-0 win over Denmark in a Boxing Day blowout.

But the offence lapsed after that, with the team putting up just 10 goals over the next four games. Half of those goals came in a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic.

“I would have expected that we could have scored a little bit more and with any luck at all, aside from some bad luck, maybe we do,” Renney said. “But every team here could say that.”

Canada struggled with the power play in particular, capitalizing on just three of 18 chances. The power play was ranked eighth in the 10-team tournament on Thursday.

Renney said he still liked the power play.

“I liked what it was trying to do. I liked the setup. Execution may be a little bit iffy,” he said.

Canada did not practise or hold a pregame skate after Dec. 25, despite not having games on Dec. 28 and New Year’s Day.

The time was spent instead on walkthroughs and rest, Renney said, noting that the group was on the ice 17 of the 23 days they were together.

“That’s pretty tough, tough sledding,” he said.

Hunter wasn’t ready to analyze what could have been done differently after Wednesday’s loss.

“I’m not going to put blame or talk about what went right or what went wrong,” he said. “It’s over. I’m going to go relax.”

Hunter was an assistant with the team last year and moved to bench boss ahead of this tournament. There were differences between the roles, he said.

“Just the challenge of getting 20-plus guys to buy into a system, to buy into a mindset and become a family — which we did all of those — and to play well, to compete for our country in a short period of time,” he said.

Hunter was a “firm, decisive” coach who didn’t varnish his message to the players and didn’t leave any grey areas, Renney said.

But whether he’ll hold the role next year remains to be seen.

“We’re going to look at next year after this year,” Renney said. “I always look hard at the coaching candidates, to say the least. Tim will certainly get that recognition, as will many others. I just like that people want to do the job.”

Six players on this year’s team are eligible to return for next year’s tournament in the Czech Republic — forwards Alexis Lafrenière, Joe Veleno and Barrett Hayton and defencemen Ty Smith, Noah Dobson and Jared McIsaac.

“We always want to win,” said Comtois, an Anaheim Ducks prospect. “Now they’re going to have the feeling of losing. They don’t want to repeat that next year, so they’re going to know what it feels like and I think they’re going to be ready to attack every game next year.”

Hockey Canada will be lucky if any of the young men return, Renney said, adding that every player is on loan from another club.

“Whatever the roster might look like, we’ll always be ready to play,” he said. “Drop the puck and Canadians are ready to go.”

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