From these seeds ...

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- For St. Boniface's Rejean Beauchemin, it began at the age of two, when his parents put him in skates and a helmet and he began learning how to walk on blades. "At three-and-a-half, he was gliding around Winakwa Community Club in Windsor Park," Beauchemin's mom, Tammie, was saying yesterday. "At five, he got his introduction into team hockey."

And at 19, Beauchemin's one of the Team Canada goaltenders for tonight's gold-medal final at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

As the backup to Jeff Glass, he won't start, but the fact he's even here is something his family wouldn't have predicted while watching this tournament over the years.

"We all laughed, watching it and saying, 'Wouldn't it be neat to someday be playing in it?' Now, we're living it," Tammie said.

CHEERING

She, along with Beauchemin's dad, Gilles, and their three daughters will all be at the Ralph Engelstad Arena tonight, cheering for Canada to win its first gold medal in eight years.

The highlight so far -- watching Rejean help shut out Germany 9-0 during the round robin.

"This is a goalie's dream team," she said. "You've got the best players in Canada in front of you."

One of those is St. Vital's Nigel Dawes, who began skating at the Dakota Community Club when he was four.

"He was seven or eight when he started to really find himself on the ice," his dad, Lloyd, recalled.

Still, Lloyd and his wife, Barb, made sure their son didn't put hockey over getting an education, telling Nigel he could dream about playing for Canada, as long as he went to school.

"He did both of them," Lloyd said.

Last year, the whole country discovered Dawes, as the 5-foot-9 winger tied for the Team Canada scoring lead in Helsinki.

Now he's back for a second crack at a gold medal, before a group of family that includes his grandparents, Bill and Camille Johnston of Winnipeg, who put off their annual trip to Arizona to watch hockey in Grand Forks.

Winnipeg's Neil and Elaine Barker will be in the stands tonight, too, but they won't be watching their son play, as defenceman Cam Barker was sidelined last week with a case of mononucleosis.

"It won't be mixed feelings at all," Neil said. "He made it. He got to play in five games. A lot of kids don't get that opportunity."

All three Winnipeggers will come home tomorrow with a medal around their necks.

The only thing left to determine is the colour.


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