Sutter the ideal coach

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

Brent Sutter was obviously the right man for the job.

When Canada set out to win its first World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal since 1997, the head coach, general manager and majority owner of the Red Deer Rebels emerged as the ideal bench boss to snap the drought.

Sutter put his stamp on this team from its first meeting at the summer evaluation camp in Calgary in August, stressing the importance of mental toughness and bringing a professional attitude to the rink on a daily basis.

"He was a great coach," said Winnipegger Nigel Dawes, one of 12 returnees on the team. "He gave us a system to follow in the summer and that's what we did. He put himself on the line with some decisions that he made and it worked out for all of us. Everyone was on board and that's what we needed."

NO LUCKY LOONIE: During his post-game press conference, Sutter was asked if this team had followed recent Canadian hockey tradition by burying any loonies at centre ice.

"Well, I didn't step on any," Sutter quipped. "We came here and accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."

The first known lucky loonie was buried at the E Center at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 when Canada's men's and women's teams won gold medals.

TOP SCORER: There were times during this tournament when Patrice Bergeron looked like a man among boys.

Bergeron, who spent last season with the Boston Bruins, made the most of his first and only World Junior Hockey Championship experience by capturing a gold medal, making the all-star team, finishing as the top scorer (five goals, 13 points) and being named Most Valuable Player.

Not a bad way to cap a 12-month period that included a gold medal with Canada at the 2004 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

"It's not an easy situation coming from the pros back to junior," said Sutter. "His attitude was outstanding. I have nothing but good things to say about him. He jumped right on board."

GETTING AHEAD: By scoring 51 seconds into the championship game against Russia, Canada scored first for the sixth consecutive game.

"The first two goals really changed the complexion of the game," Russian head coach Sergey Gersonski said through an interpreter. "We never recovered."

Canada never trailed in a game during the entire tournament.


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