GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Nigel Dawes was so overcome with emotion, he was nearly reduced to tears.
And that was before the game began.
By the time the final buzzer sounded and Canada earned a 6-1 win over Russia at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Dawes was celebrating a gold medal winning performance.
"This is the greatest moment in my life right now," said Dawes, who had an assist last night to finish the tournament with two goals and six points. "The first time we stepped on the ice, the crowd sent chills down my spine. I was almost in tears before it started, I was so excited to play the game. It was such a good way to end this tournament. It was awesome. We worked so hard for the past three-and-a-half weeks."
Dawes was one of three Winnipeggers on the club, but the only one who went through the agony of defeat in the gold medal game last year in Finland, when Canada blew a 3-1 third-period lead to drop a 4-3 decision to the U.S.
Proud of silver and gold
"It does (ease the pain) but not too many people can say they have a gold and a silver medal," said Dawes. "I'm proud of both of them."
Canada was dominant yesterday, capping a perfect 6-0 tournament in which they outscored opponents 41-7.
"We've been playing like that all tournament," said Dawes, sporting a cut on his chin compliments of Russian defenceman Dimitri Vorobiev that resulted in a five-minute major and game misconduct. "We didn't just beat them, we outplayed them everywhere."
Defenceman Cam Barker experienced a different type of agony this year, as his dream of playing in the gold medal game was taken away after contracting mononucleosis.
Barker, one of only two Canadian players eligible to return to play in the 2006 tournament in Vancouver, played in the first three games and scored a power-play goal in a 9-0 win over Germany before he was sidelined for the duration.
Goalie Rejean Beauchemin, who posted a shutout against Germany in his only game action, had one of the best seats in the house and was proud to be part of what might be the best team Canada has ever sent to the tournament.
"Some of us experienced it at the Under-18 tournament, but this is really special," said Beauchemin, grinning from ear-to-ear with a gold medal hanging around his neck. "It was a treat playing with all of these players. I got my chance to play and did my job. Even though I didn't play much, I had my role on the team and it's an honour to have been part of it."