Big hopes for juniors

MEGAN GILLIS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

No pressure or anything. Canada's juniors just have to win, said the few die-hard fans who braved the ice outdoors to watch world junior championship hockey action at local watering holes yesterday.

'IT HAS TO BE'

"This is the year -- it has to be," said Dale Murphy, finally tearing his eyes from the screen at Local Heroes on Merivale Rd. after Canada beat the Czech Republic 3-1 to advance to tomorrow night's gold medal game.

"We have nothing else to cheer for. All of Canada is behind them."

Murphy, 49, is betting on the experienced Canadian team to break a jinx that's seen Team Canada lose for the last three years. Canada last won gold in 1997.

"They've got to do it," fellow fan Dave Dakers added. "They've got to come in with the gold medal. They have to say, 'We've come this far, we've just got to do it.' "

A small crew watched the game at Local Heroes, where barkeep Andrew Smith says the juniors have brought in fans, but can't compete with their big brothers in the NHL.

A few hockey fans were found among Sunday night diners at the Royal Oak on Hunt Club Rd.

Mike O'Flaherty, who watched the game with a buddy on the Oak's big screen, said fans should give the lads a break.

"They're only 19 years old -- you can't put all that pressure on them," the 24-year-old said. "It's not win or bust. They had a good tournament whether they win or not."

Besides, fans should just be grateful for any on-ice action.

"The world juniors is a nice break from no hockey," O'Flaherty said.

megan.gillis@ott.sunpub.com


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