Tavares has proven his worth to scouts

JODY VANCE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:07 PM ET

Tonight, Team Canada goes for its fifth straight World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal as it faces Team Sweden in Ottawa.

From the get-go, this tournament has served up great hockey, not once has there been an excuse to be one of those fans who leaves early to get a jump on traffic.

Imagine trying to explain yourself if you'd been one of the lucky 19,000 to get a ticket for Saturday's ultra-special semi-final affair between Canada and Russia only to leave early? I'd bet a week's pay that anyone who did would lie to friends, co-workers and even family when asked to relive those final dramatic seconds of regulation, overtime and the shootout.

This tournament has been special, from opening face-off to final horn of every game.

Preliminary rounds were a showcase for the emerging superstar John Tavares when his Team Canada beat the Czech Republic 8-1 on Boxing Day then Kazakhstan 15-0 Dec. 28. In both contests Tavares was a scoring machine.

The thrilling comeback win over Team USA, after Canada went down by three goals in the first, was the first example of "it ain't over till it's over."

Many players on the Canadian squad are worthy of the spotlight. As we look to tonight's tilt there is no denying the one shining star is Tavares and only Tavares. He is the headliner, the major story, the ultra special player, and always the most dangerous young man on the ice.

Tavares has given the hockey world proof of his worthiness to be the prize at the 2009 NHL entry draft.

This tournament has solidified Tavares' place in junior hockey history and showed decision makers throughout the hockey world that he is the complete package. His talent, sportsmanship and poise with the media all confirm his readiness to make the jump to the big leagues.

There are many stories behind the baby-faces wearing Canada colours but perhaps the greatest as they go for gold is the lesson in how great character can capture the hearts of an entire hockey-crazy country.

-- Jody Vance is a sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her column appears Mondays in 24 hours.


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