Rugged d-man proves worth

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

He was named top defenceman and a tournament all-star but, in the wake of last night's victory over Russia, Dion Phaneuf's eyes were on another prize.

The gold medal draped around his neck.

"It's nice to be recognized but right now I'm just focused on the moment with the 20-some guys we've got in our room who really came together in this tournament," said Phaneuf, the Calgary Flames' top prospect.

"I've got some friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

"It's an unbelievable experience and one that I'll never forget, that's for sure. Right now, you don't know even what to say."

Certainly, plenty are saying their fair share of superlative words about Phaneuf now.

Going into the tournament, the word was Phaneuf was the linchpin for Canada's loaded defence corps.

During the six wins needed to claim gold at the world juniors, he proved he was worth the hype.

"I tried to play my best and feel I did that," said the Red Deer Rebels product, who Calgary drafted in the first round of 2003. "It was definitely a positive tournament for me."

Brent Sutter, his coach both here and in Red Deer, said what makes Phaneuf so special is his complete game -- be it bone-jarring hits or work running the powerplay, which were both on display last night.

"He brings a little of everything to the table," Sutter said. "He's gonna do great things, for sure."

Last night's clash included a head-to-head battle between Ovechkin and Phaneuf. Ovechkin was held without a point before leaving the game thanks to a hard body check from Patrice Bergeron.

"We didn't want to take him out of the game," Phaneuf said. "He's a top player and to be successful you've got to shut their top players down."

STARS ON ICE: Dion Phaneuf wasn't the only Canadian lauded after the tourney.

Patrice Bergeron, the Boston Bruins young star, was named MVP, while Russia's Alexander Ovechkin was named top forward. The Czech Republic's Marek Schwarz was top goalie.

The all-star team consisted of Schwarz, Phaneuf and American Ryan Suter on defence and forwards Bergeron, Ovechkin and Canadian Jeff Carter.


Videos

Photos