Nigel making plans for gold-medal celebration

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Desperate Dozen will get their second chance. A year after watching a world junior championship gold medal slip away, Team Canada's 12 returning players are back for one more shot at the big prize.

For Winnipeg's Nigel Dawes, yesterday's 3-1 win over the Czechs in the semifinal capped a 12-month journey that could only be taken one small step at a time.

"We've done that so far, and now we're there," Dawes said. "Now we've just got to get over the hump and finish it off."

Dawes scored the eventual winner yesterday, his second goal of the tournament, swatting home a rebound on a second-period power play that gave Canada a 2-0 lead, not to mention some breathing room. But, he says come this morning, it'll all be forgotten.

"You've got to refocus," Dawes said. "Our job's not done yet. There's no complacency on our team. We'll have a tough practice and get right back to work."

Dawes' offensive totals are down from the tournament-leading six goals he scored last year.

But with a more balanced team this year, led by stars Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron, Dawes and linemates Michael Richards and Anthony Stewart aren't being asked to shoulder the load.

It's all about team defence, the 5-foot-9 speedster says.

"We build our game around that," Dawes said. "If we win 1-0, good for us. It's a sacrifice you have to make ... and we've all jumped on board."

Of course, a win tomorrow would make it all worthwhile. And while the Desperate Dozen don't like to talk about last year's gold-medal game, you can be sure reversing the result would also erase the memory of the Heartbreak in Helsinki, where Canada blew a 3-1, third-period lead to the U.S.

"Not too many people get a second chance," Richards said. "You try to make the most of it."

Yesterday, Canada got a taste of the reception they'll get tomorrow night, as some 10,000 fans gave them a standing ovation during the final minute of play.

"It's awesome," Dawes said. "The fans have been amazing the whole tournament. It's just great to have them here. To stand on the blue line with them all cheering and the anthem going, it just sends chills down your spine. Hopefully we can have it one more time."

One thing is certain: motivation will not be a problem.

"You're in the gold-medal game -- what else do you need?" Dawes said. "If you're not going to be motivated for that, I don't think you should be out there."


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