Bergeron feels like a kid, again

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:27 PM ET

Patrice Bergeron is back playing with his peers again and he is demonstrating why he is no longer doing so on a regular basis. The 19-year-old centre is the lone NHL player Canada has in its lineup and was an offensive catalyst through the round-robin. Bergeron leads the 2005 world junior championship in scoring with 10 points.

"It's fun to be playing with guys who are my own age again," Bergeron said after Canada practised at the Gambucci Arena here in Grand Forks, N.D., yesterday. "I don't feel like it is a step back at all. There is so much talent on the ice."

Canada will play in a semi-final tomorrow versus the winner of today's quarter-final between the Czech Republic and Finland.

Bergeron's road to the world junior couldn't be more unique. After one season of major junior with Acadie-Bathurst of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he was drafted 45th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2003.

SURPRISED BRUINS

He surprised the Bruins organization by cracking the roster in training camp that September and then took it a step further, recording 16 goals and 23 assists in 71 games. He would be in Beantown if not for the NHL lockout, and has been biding his time with Providence of the American Hockey League.

"I really appreciate the fact the Bruins gave me an opportunity to come here," Bergeron said. "I thought I would have to adjust, but everyone else is so good it has not been hard."

Bergeron made history of sorts the moment he stepped on to the ice in Canada's first game of the tournament, against Slovakia on Christmas Day. He became the first player to play for Canada in the world junior after wearing the national colours in the men's world championship. The youngest player in the NHL last season when he made his debut at 18 years, three months, Bergeron then played for Canada at the worlds this past spring and won gold.

"It's funny that I have done it in reverse but it's more because of the situation with the lockout," Bergeron said. "I would love to be in the NHL now, but this has been fun."

Bergeron and linemates Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry have been on fire, combining for 22 points in four games. But it's not only on the ice that Bergeron has been a positive role model for his teammates. Having a legitimate NHLer in their midst has been a treat for the rest of the club.

"He looks a lot more mature than most 19-year-olds," Perry said. "You can tell he has been in the NHL for a year. You watch the way he carries himself and he is just one of those guys you look up to."

Bergeron doesn't think there will be an end to the lockout as long as the owners insist on a salary cap, but he is not concerned about that issue for the time being anyway.

"I think we had a good proposal to go start playing, but the owners think another way," Bergeron, the lone Quebec native on Canada's roster, said. "We'll see what happens. I'm thinking about one thing, and that's to help this team win."


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