Just awesome

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The head-scratching is over. Canada has satisfied its seven-year itch.

The nation is back on top of the junior hockey world, beating Russia 6-1 in the gold-medal game at the world junior hockey championship last night.

The pro-Canada sellout crowd of 11,862 at Ralph Engelstad Arena enjoyed the victory. Canada had lost to Russia all three times when the two had met in the final since the playoff format was introduced in 1996.

Canada hadn't won the gold medal since beating the U.S. 2-0 in Geneva in 1997. After the seven tournaments since then, the Canadian junior game has been dissected and questioned from every angle.

"I've been involved since 1990 and seen a lot of great (Canadian) junior teams, but no one has dominated from start to finish like this one," said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson.

"These kids weren't behind for one minute. They should be proud. They'll walk together for the rest of their lives."

Canada outshot Russia 32-19 and outscored its opponents 41-7 in the six games.

London Knights defenceman Danny Syvret and Jeff Carter, a London native who plays for the Soo Greyhounds and who was one of 12 players back from last year, each scored a goal.

Carter's goal, his seventh of the tournament, gave him 12 career markers with the Canadian juniors, tying him with Eric Lindros for the all-time mark.

Carter played in two tournaments. Lindros was in three.

Carter's play earned him all-tournament team honours.

"These guys are so talented," he said. "We played our crash-and-bang game. But with the skill we have, we could start playing a finesse game -- crisp passing and the fancy goals."

Syvret's goal, coming on a power play at 8:00 of the opening period, made it 2-0 and proved to be the winner.

His stick is off to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

"I didn't get the puck and I didn't get to keep my stick either," he smiled.

Syvret picked up a loose puck behind the Russian net and banked it in off the pads of goalie Anton Khudobin.

"Just hanging out," Syvret said when asked what he was doing so deep in the Russian end. He had a strong tournament and other than Sidney Crosby, the top-rated player for this year's NHL draft, he was the only non-drafted player on the Canadian team.

"One goal was always to play for my country anywhere along the line and to score in the gold-medal game just tops it off," said Syvret, clutching his medal just in case they came for that as well.

Russian star Alexander Ovechkin, who had said prior to the game Canada "is not a god," was on the bench late in the second period, wearing his sweater over street clothes after suffering a suspected shoulder injury after taking a hit from Patrice Bergeron.

Ovechkin was targeted with four solid checks in the first period -- the first coming from Corey Perry of the Knights, who put Ovechkin on his butt.

"From the warmup out, if he had the puck, we were going to get him," said Perry, his face sporting some battle scars. "We were going to take him out of the game and it just happened to be me (to apply the first hit)."

Ovechkin said the hitting rattled his team.

"Canada started to take the body and it went sour for Russia," he said. "When they started to hit, they were running the game."

Ovechkin, the first player selected in the 2004 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals, had also questioned whether Canadian goalie Jeff Glass of the Kootenay Ice would be up to the task after seeing few shots in his previous games.

"I wasn't going to get into a battle of words," Glass said. "I was going to go out and let my play do the talking. We all have gold medals around our necks now and he has nothing. Sometimes when you say thinks like that, it comes back to bite you in the butt."

Ovechkin was in tears after the game as fans booed the announcement he'd been named to the all-tournament team. The boos turned to cheers later when he was named best forward. Both times he waved to the crowd.

"Canada has a good crowd and I congratulate them," he said.

Canadian head coach Brent Sutter, a former NHLer who now owns and coaches the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League, has won Stanley Cups, Canada Cups and Memorial Cups. Now the world junior.

"He's definitely an unbelievable coach," Carter said.


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