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NFL CANADA


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.



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YOU SAID
45 Comments

Well correct me if I am wrong but if you want a strong offence and goal scoring then an obvious choice would be Taylor Hall. I remember Tavares going through the same when he was a bit younger. The staff finally decided to take him but in a power play role. Well Tavares sure proved himself by scoring several times. Was Taylor sent packing only because of his age? He surely is skilled enough to fit on any line. Look out next year, he is only going to be better (projected #1 draft pick for 2010)
Jeff, 2008-12-15 20:31:24

I thought Taylor Hall would be a lock. He is leading the ohl in points. His former nhl coach bob boughner calls him the best player in the league this year. He was the leading candidate to go #1 in the 2010 draft. Fastest player.... ahhh I don't get it. ? (I guess even in junior hockey, quinn doesn't like youth)
gerry, 2008-12-15 19:00:02

Rock solid Defence....? I'm not to confident in that. Someone please tell me why Michael Del Zotto was not invited and not on this roster ??? He is possible better than any of these D invited and picked.
Jeff, 2008-12-15 16:36:15

A little more creativity up front this year with the Q's Espo and Dido, not to mention Tavares. Combined with a rock solid defense, I'm looking forward to some fun hockey!
John, 2008-12-15 14:24:40

Congrats to Angelo Esposito on making the team after three straight years of being cut.
Russ, 2008-12-15 11:18:34

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