Moose catch world junior fever

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Patriotic pride was on full display at the MTS Centre yesterday.

There was a rush for the exits by many players as the Manitoba Moose ended practice, since Canada was playing the United States in a semifinal of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden.

After asking members of the media for score updates during breaks in the action on the ice, the players got their chance to catch most of overtime and the entire shootout of the classic matchup.

Televisions were on throughout the dressing room and many sets of eyes were glued to the action.

Many of the most dramatic moments were provided by Winnipegger Jonathan Toews, who scored three times in the shootout, including the game-clincher, to propel Canada to a 2-1 victory and earn a berth in the gold medal game.

"It was great, because we won," said Moose captain Mike Keane, who arranged a quick photo shoot between the end of overtime and the start of the shootout. "Jonathan Toews is a good Winnipeg kid who did great. Three penalty shots in a pressure situation. I know him a little bit from working out with him in the summertime and from what I hear, he's a poised kid, real focused. It's a win or lose situation and his background obviously helped him a lot. That's why he's a leader on that team right now."

Moose assistant coach Brad Berry was impressed by Toews' showing, but not surprised.

"What can you say about him?" said Berry, an associate coach with the UND Fighting Sioux before joining the Moose this season. "In college, there is no shootout but obviously he must have stayed after practice and worked on that a bit. He does it all. He's very good in the defensive zone and is a good offensive player.

"He got better as the series went on. He's an attention to detail player. It was exciting for myself to have a chance to coach a player of that magnitude and to see him excel. It's tough to find a player who is more focused or more dedicated than him."

Moose head coach Scott Arniel was shocked to see so many goals scored in the penalty shot competition and tipped his hat to Toews for now being 4-for-4 in penalty shots and shootouts against the U.S. during the tournament.

"I'd like to think he had their number," said Arniel.

Watching Canada knock off the U.S. brought back some fond shootout memories for Moose forward Brandon Reid.

"I remember scoring the winner against the USA in the shootout in the bronze medal game (in 2000)," said Reid, who played for Canada in the world juniors in 2000 and 2001. "I'm sure he had a lot of pressure on him but it's worth it when you score the goal. I imagine he's feeling pretty good right now."


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