January 4, 2005
Seven-year glitchOur juniors haven't won gold since 1997. Randy Sportak recalls why ...
By RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun
Talk about falling with a thud.
Despite the likes of Alex Tanguay and Vincent Lecavalier, this team couldn't score -- nine goals in four round-robin games -- and was plagued by off-ice problems.
Posting a 2-2 record wasn't bad enough, this team followed by losing 3-0 to the U.S. and then placed eighth, thanks to a 6-3 loss to Kazakhstan.
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A return to respectability. Wins over Finland and the Czechs, a scoreless tie with Slovakia and a loss to the U.S. made it a tough climb to the final. After dispatching Kazakhstan by a 12-2 count, Canada handily beat a Sweden squad that featured the Sedin twins. Despite the goaltending heroics of Roberto Luongo, the Canadians fell 3-2 in OT to Russia.
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There was only one loss but it came at the wrong time. The Canadian lineup, which included Calgarian Dany Heatley and Hitmen Chris Nielsen, Matt Kinch and Matt Pettinger -- not to forget Brad Richards -- went 2-0-2 in the round-robin and beat Switzerland to reach the semifinal, where they lost 3-2 to Russia. Canada won bronze by beating the U.S. 4-3 in a shootout.
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The Czech Republic won back-to-back golds, while Canada claimed a second straight bronze. Again, one bad game made all the difference. Sub-par goaltending from Maxime Ouellet in the semifinal resulted in a 5-2 loss to Finland. Again, though, the Canadians regrouped to claim a medal by beating Sweden in the consolation game.
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Canada beat Russia 5-2 in the round-robin but the tables were turned in the gold-medal game. After soundly thumping Sweden and Switzerland to reach the final, Canada twice blew two-goal leads and fell 5-4 to its biggest rivals. Canadian netminder Pascal Leclaire was steady throughout the tournament but faltered in a final.
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Nyet again. The showdown everyone expected came to be, a Russian team that stormed to the final against the host team looking to mark the fifth time in history a nation has won on home soil. Canada has a 2-1 lead midway through the game but Igor Grigorenko tied the game and Flames prospect Yuri Trubachev netted the winner on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
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Canada dominated in the round-robin. They then beat the Czechs in the semifinal to set up a meeting with the top seed from the other pool -- the U.S. Leading 3-1 in the third period of the final, Canada's wheels fell off. The fatal blow came when goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tried to clear the puck, which hit defenceman Braydon Coburn and deflected back into the Canadian net.