Cog in the machine

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:09 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The book on facing Sweden at the world juniors is no secret. Nor is it complicated.

For what seems to be forever, the game plan for Canadian squads when facing Sweden starts with being physical.

Use size and strength to wear down Tre Kroner.

That's exactly what's expected from Andrew Ladd when Canada faces the Swedes this afternoon in Grand Forks.

"It'll play into my style," agreed the Hitmen forward. "But everyone on our team has the ability to play that way and that's the way the coaching staff wants us to play on a consistent basis.

"I think they're expecting that every game from everybody."

Ladd's first international tournament wearing the Maple Leaf is certainly a new experience in so many ways.

Part of an all-star team some are calling Canada's best ever entry at this event, he's gone from being a big wheel with the Hitmen to a cog in the machinery.

Instead of playing on the top line and being instrumental on the powerplay, Ladd now finds himself simply taking a regular shift and helping kill penalties.

He's not the first to learn there comes a time to take a back seat.

And it's important players who are stars on their club teams know when to shelve their egos.

"I think everyone knows their role on this team and the things they have to do," said the left winger chosen fourth overall by Carolina in the 2004 draft. "Going into this tournament, I knew my job is to do more crashing and banging, grinding it out in the corners and chipping in with a little offence.

"The main thing anyone said to me is stick to what I do best and it'd be fine.

"You've got to take pride in playing the role you've been given and make sure you do it to the best of your ability and that will take you a long ways."

Ladd chipped in with a helper and also created several turnovers on the forecheck during Canada's 7-3 Christmas Day victory over Slovakia.

Considering those are both elements of his game he must demonstrate to make it at the pro level, it's a good sign.

"It's a new experience, something I haven't been involved with before," he said.

"The level of play is tremendous and the speed of the game is bumped up a level. All those are going to make you a better player, so you have to keep up and make sure you can play it.

"I don't think I was nervous. I was pretty excited and it was great to get the tournament going. Look at the guys we've got -- it's a pretty exciting team to play on. I'm just glad to get the chance to be here and am prepared to do whatever it takes."

That Ladd is here shouldn't come as a surprise. He possesses that healthy blend of skill and grit Canadian teams are known for.

However, it's not like he's had the best of seasons so far in Calgary, having netted only 11 goals and 24 points in 33 WHL contests.

Nor, admittedly, did he have the best tryout camp.

Still, the fact he earned a Team Canada sweater makes Ladd as determined as ever.

"I didn't have a very good camp at all. I expected a lot more of myself," he said. "I guess for once I was on the other end where I didn't play well and still made the team. Usually I've played pretty good and got cut.

"The last year and a half, though, I've made some pretty good strides and come a long way."


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