'Warrior' soul in Richards

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

Corey Perry dropped the gloves with Michael Richards earlier this season. So Richards' ability to return last night from a leg bruise and be a factor in Canada's 8-1 win over Finland was of little surprise to Perry.

"He is a warrior and that's why he is our captain," Perry, the London Knights star, said of Richards, also the captain of the Kitchener Rangers.

"You play against him in the OHL and he does not take a shift off. It has carried over to here. And he is an unbelievable guy off the ice, too."

Richards missed the majority of a 9-0 win over Germany on Tuesday after bruising his upper right leg. But last night he did what captains are supposed to do -- inspire their teammates. The native of Kenora scored the winning goal while Canada was short-handed late in the first period, putting a backhander past Finnish goalie Joonas Hallikainen after some excellent forechecking by Colin Fraser.

On Canada's fifth goal, Richards spotted a streaking Shawn Belle and hit the defenceman with a perfect pass. Belle then zipped a quick shot past Hallikainen.

"To see Richie come back after an injury got everybody else going," the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' Jeff Carter said. "He's a battler and he just never stops going."

A Philadelphia Flyers prospect, Richards said there was no way he was going to miss Canada's final round-robin game.

"Every time you get a chance to throw on a Canadian jersey, you have to try to do it," Richards said. "A little bruise is not going to stop anyone on this team."

Richards acknowledged that initially he was worried about leaving the game against Germany.

"I was a little bit scared," the 19-year-old centre said. "After that night and a little bit of yesterday it was sore, but (Thursday) night it was feeling good."

Watching Richards brought to mind a certain somebody for Flyers general manager Bob Clarke.

"I think Richards is just like Doug Gilmour," Clarke said. "He just does everything on the ice really good. He's one of those guys who really knows how to play the game."

Canada outshot the Finns 51-20, a stomping that comforted Richards more than anything else.

"It was so nice to see everybody play so hard in a game that was kind of hard to get up for," Richards said.

"We kept on the gas pedal the whole game."


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