Gimli puts on spread

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

GIMLI -- They came, they saw and they crushed the buffet. They sang a few songs, watched a movie and received a special message from a quartet of Canadian-born WWE superstars.

All in all, Friday was an exceptional evening for members of Canada's 2005 world junior hockey team, who were guests at the Gimli home of former NHLer Ted Irvine.

"It was an outstanding meal and an outstanding night," said Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter, who has been friends with Irvine for more than two decades. "The kids just loved it and the staff was saying it may have been the best of all-time as far as everything involved. We had a lot of fun."

Residents of Gimli provided an immaculate spread of food that included three turkeys, perogies, cabbage rolls, meatballs and several other items, all of which was devoured by the strapping lads.

"It went really well and it was one of the best meals I've ever had," said second-year defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

"It was a big feast," added second-year centre Jeff Carter. "We watched a movie, sang a few karaoke songs and had some good laughs."

After the players retired to another room to watch a movie, they got a surprise greeting from WWE Raw wrestler Chris Jericho, a Winnipegger who is Irvine's son. Other Canadian wrestlers to give their well-wishes were Chris Benoit, Edge and Sylvain Grenier of the tag team La Resistance.

"They pretty much (said) kick butt, they're tough guys and they don't like to lose," said Carter. "I don't think anybody expected it. Ted went up to put the movie on and the next thing you know these guys came up there (on the TV screen). It was pretty neat to see."

BACK TO WORK: Getting away from the rink was nice, but Sutter cranked up the intensity yesterday morning, as practice featured a host of one-on-one battles.

One of the biggest hits of the day saw defenceman Braydon Coburn drive Sidney Crosby into the boards.

Crosby was fine and didn't miss a beat during practice.

"You always need a good battle practice here and there," said Phaneuf, who has seen his share in Red Deer, Alta., where Sutter is the head coach, general manager and majority owner. "It keeps you sharp."

WAITING GAME: It was a day of rest for defenceman Brent Seabrook, who gave his injured shoulder a light test with a brief skate after Friday's practice.

"He's still sore, so we just have to be patient," said Sutter. "We have time on our side."

SPECIAL TEAMS: Second-year winger Jeremy Colliton is lining up on the right side with Crosby and Patrice Bergeron, but also figures to play a prominent role on the penalty-killing unit.

"PK is a huge part of our game," said Colliton. "We play a physical style and if you can kill penalties off, it allows you to play more aggressively."


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