What are your thoughts on the world junior team? Mon, December 15, 2008
Jordan Eberle woke up in his hotel room yesterday, flicked on the TV and watched what more than million other Canadians saw the night before: His heroic game-saving goal with 5.4 seconds left and his shootout goal that helped Canada defeat the Russians in the semi-final of the world junior hockey championship.
Then he checked his cellphone. Full of congratulatory text messages from friends and family back home in Regina.
Then he tried to forget about it.
"That's over," he said after practice yesterday, "and I don't think anything matters now because we've got the gold medal to play for."
Really? Let's just bask a little longer.
"My roommate (Zach Boychuk) and I watched it a couple times," Eberle said of the TV highlights. "Just an amazing play by Ryan Ellis to keep the puck in the zone and just the way it unfolded was pretty neat."
Angelo Esposito, who scored a nifty short-handed goal against Russia, also admitted he gets a little rush when he sees himself score on TV.
"It's always cool to see your goal on TSN," he said.
Eberle, an 18-year-old Oilers prospect, showed poise that belied his age with his clutch performance in front of the TV cameras and the 19,327 fans at Scotiabank Place.
He was first up for Canada in the shootout, and he had a plan -- deke the goalie high to the blocker side.
"I knew what I was going to do. We went over some stuff with the goalie coach, but for the most part, throughout the game you see what the tendencies of the goalie are. You kind of have your move picked out beforehand, then as you're coming in at the last second, if the goalie changes where he is or is too far back, you can change it."
HAD A PLAN
John Tavares, who was up next and also scored, has a similar philosophy.
"It's kind of just reading the goalie and see how he reacts," said Tavares, who leads the tournament with eight goals. "You always try to have an idea of what you want to do, but I don't think you want to make a permanent move where it limits your chances."
Coach Pat Quinn, who ends most his practices with a shootout competition -- making the losing side do pushups -- said he likes his team's chances in a shootout.
There was a case -- think Lillehammer, 1994 Olympics -- when Canadians dreaded shootouts.
"When it (international hockey) went to the shootout, 15-20 years ago people would certainly have picked the Russians to win," he said. "The Russians really pride themselves on that individual skill and that one-on-one stuff and all that sort of thing, but they didn't know we'd have some of those kids come through here, too. They should have remembered from two years ago with (Jonathan) Toews being so magnificent (in the semi-final vs. Team USA)."
Tonight, Eberle and the rest of Team Canada don't care how they win -- shootout or not -- as long as they have the gold medal around their necks at the end of the game.
And they'll have a little more time to savour those highlights.