Canada looking to end its eight-year drought

Jim Cressman -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It doesn't get any bigger than this -- Canada and Russia in a gold-medal hockey game. With the NHL in the midst of a lockout, Canada is starved for hockey.

At the same time, Canada is starved for a gold medal at the world junior hockey championship.

It's been eight years since Canada stood on top of the podium with a 2-0 victory over the United States on Jan. 4, 1997, in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We know a lot of people will be watching on TV," London Knights defenceman Danny Syvret said yesterday.

"The country is in need of hockey and hopefully we can come out and give them a good showing and give them what they want.

"Nine years is a long time."

When Syvret was told it's been only eight years, he smiled: "It's still long enough, though."

Syvret said as a kid growing up, Canada-Russia games were always intriguing.

Now he has an opportunity to be in one.

"I think it's the biggest rivalry Canada has," Syvret said."When you think of hockey, you always think of the Canadians and the Russians."

The Russians have certainly been thinking of the Canadians, in fact, star forward Alexander Ovechkin isn't overly impressed by the fact Canada was the favoured team coming into the tournament.

"We think Canada is just a team, not a god . . . nothing else," said the 19-year-old Ovechkin, selected first overall in the 2004 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals.

Canadian forward Jeff Carter of London is among a dozen players back from the 2004 team that lost 4-3 to the U.S. in the final.

"It's definitely a great opportunity and nice that you get a second chance," he said of his gold-medal quest.

"A loss like that stays with you for a while, but you have to put it behind you and move on."


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