Erasing bad memories

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 PM ET

It is the goal that just won't go away -- at least not yet. Canada's world junior team has done a great job of turning the page after the third period meltdown in last year's gold medal game against the United States, but the memory won't be erased unless they come away with a gold medal on Jan. 4.

To review, Canada saw a 3-1 lead vanish into thin air during the third period and the dagger came on an innocent play as American forward Patrick O'Sullivan directed the puck toward the Canadian goal.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a tournament all-star in 2003, rushed out of the net and tried to shoot the puck out of harm's way.

Unfortunately for him -- and the rest of a hockey-mad nation -- the shot went off the shoulder of Canadian defenceman Braydon Coburn and trickled back into the unguarded goal.

O'Sullivan and his American teammates couldn't believe their good fortune, as they hung on to capture their country's first gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Canadians everywhere were devastated as the gold medal drought, which dates back to 1997, extended another year.

Close to one year later, Coburn was either unable or unwilling to re-examine the topic.

"I'd rather not actually, I'm not dwelling on the past at all," said Coburn, a product of Shaunavon, Sask., who has represented his country more often than any other player on the current roster. "When anything bad happens, I try to conduct myself like a pro and move forward. That's how I approach every day."

Goalie Jeff Glass, who is expected to be Canada's starter, was an innocent bystander last year and couldn't believe what he saw unfold. But right before his eyes was a fellow goalie's worst nightmare.

"That's all it was, 99 out of 100 plays he plays that fine -- it just so happened to bounce right off (Coburn) and into the net," said Glass. "It was a total fluke."

Glass felt bad for everyone, especially Kootenay Ice teammate Nigel Dawes.

"It was terrible, I was watching real close because I'm real good buddies with Nigel," said Glass. "I felt so bad for those guys. It gives the guys that extra drive and determination and they want it that much more. Nothing less than gold is going to be satisfactory."

Sidney Crosby -- who was 16 at the time and was limited to three shifts in the third period -- had a glorious chance to make it 4-1 and said the impact of the goal didn't set in until hearing the final buzzer.

"At the time, the feeling was a little bit of shock but at the same time, we were kind of worrying about getting back in the game and scoring the fourth one," said Crosby, acknowledging the shot at redemption this year. "A lot of people don't get second chances, no matter what it is, in life in general. We're lucky we have that second chance and we're going to try to do as much as we can with it.

"It shows you how good you have to be. You have to know that everyone wants to knock you off. You're looked upon as the best country in hockey, so every game we play is every other country's biggest game. You have to be ready to defend that every time you step on the ice."

Returning winger Ryan Getzlaf expects Team Canada to rebound.

"It was one of the hardest things that has ever happened," said Getzlaf. "At the end of the game, hearing their national anthem instead of yours is really heartbreaking.

"We've got past that now though and we're looking forward to this year."

No need to look much further, the tournament starts tomorrow.


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