Knights' Perry fitting in

Jim Cressman, Free Press Sports Reporter

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Corey Perry has presented the Canadian coaching staff with a dilemma. What to do when Jeremy Colliton's bruised thigh has recovered enough to allow the right-winger to play again?

They'll be hard-pressed to take Perry off what's become Canada's top line after his effort in a 7-3 victory yesterday over Slovakia in the opening game of the 2005 world junior hockey championship.

Perry has fit in with centre Patrice Bergeron, on loan from the Boston Bruins, and 17-year-old sensation Sidney Crosby, after Colliton went down in pretourney games.

Bergeron scored two goals and assisted on two others, with Crosby counting two goals and one assist against Slovakia. And although Perry, who's leading the OHL in scoring with the London Knights, was officially credited with only one assist, he could easily have had another two if officials were a little more liberal in awarding a second assist in international play.

Canada is off today before playing Sweden tomorrow and word is Colliton may be ready to get back into the lineup.

"You've got to keep going at it and make it tough for the coaches to take me off that line," said Perry, who actually started off as the 13th forward on Canada's depth chart.

"You know what, if it does come down to that, I'll go back and do what I kept doing all camp and that's working hard in practice and hopefully I'll keep moving up.

"I'll do whatever it takes. If they need me as a cheerleader on the bench, I'll do that. I'll do anything to be on this team.

"Just even to sit on the bench is an honour. But I just want to keep working hard and hopefully they won't make that change."

Perry was the final player cut last year and he had plenty of detractors when he reported to this year's camp.

"There's definitely been a lot of that the last couple of years," he said. "I just wanted to come in and show them I belong here and I can play on that top line.

"It's unfortunate that Jeremy is down with an injury but it helps me, too. I wanted to do everything I could do to stay on that line and hopefully the coaches will see that and I'll make it tough on them when Jeremy is ready to get back in the lineup."

Perry said it's been "unbelievable" playing with Bergeron and Crosby.

"Everyone knows about Crosby and Bergeron is a well-established NHL player. I just put the puck on their stick and they've been scoring goals, so I'll be the so-called setup man. If that keeps going, I wouldn't mind keeping that job."

Bergeron said Perry is proving unselfish with the puck.

"He's got such a long stick, he gets the puck everywhere," said Bergeron, in the AHL during the NHL lockout.

"He works hard and he's got a lot of skill and that's a great combination. But I don't think he's a setup guy. Obviously he can score, he shows that in London. But he can pass."

Crosby said the key to their line is the fact all three players see the ice so well.

"We're all great scorers" said Crosby.

"Right now Corey is setting us up, but he can score for sure. It's not like he doesn't have chances. It just so happens we're getting pucks at the side of the net and we're banging it in but he's the one who's putting it there.

"It's not like 'You score, I pass.' I don't think it's like that at all."

CANADA 7

SLOVAKIA 3


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