Canucks grab gold

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

If this is a dream, Jonathan Toews doesn't want to wake up.

For the second time in less than year, the 17-year-old Winnipegger was wearing a Team Canada jersey with a gold medal hanging around his neck.

In December, Toews was the tournament MVP as he helped Team Western, a collection of Manitoba and Saskatchewan players, capture the World Under-17 Championship in Lethbridge, Alta.

And yesterday, Toews captained Team Canada to the Under-18 Junior World Cup tournament in Piestany, Slovakia.

Canada defeated the Czech Republic 5-3 yesterday to win the tournament for the ninth time in 10 years.

'IT WAS JUST AWESOME'

"It's unreal," Toews said in a telephone interview shortly after the game. "It's a great bunch of guys, we came together in a short amount of time and we pulled it off. The Under-17 at Christmas was a great feeling, putting on that Maple Leaf, but now was a whole different thing. You're representing Canada as a whole, not just a certain region. You're going up against the best players in the world and everybody plays their best game against Canada, so you have to be ready. I'll take away quite a few things from this experience and it was just awesome to win the gold medal."

Toews, considered a top prospect for the 2006 NHL entry draft, got things going on the right foot by notching three goals in a 5-3 win over Switzerland and wrapped things up yesterday with an assist to give him five goals and three assists for eight points in five tournament games.

Prior to the tournament, Canadian head coach Shawn Camp said his only concern was scoring enough goals, but that wasn't a problem at all as Canada went 5-0 and outscored opponents to the tune of 23-10.

"Our line, with Ben Maxwell and Zach Hamill, got off to a great start against the Czech Republic in the exhibition game (a 1-0 shootout loss on Aug. 7) but we couldn't put the puck in the net," said Toews, who will play for the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the fall. "It was just a matter of time. We kept playing, we kept pushing and we kept scoring. We got the job done out there."

As for the final, Toews said it wasn't as close as the score would indicate.

"We went all-out for 60 minutes, the guys never gave up," said Toews. "We played well."

Mitch Fadden of Victoria scored twice for Canada while Hamill of Port Coquitlam, B.C., Logan Pyette of Milestone, Sask., and James Sheppard of Sackville, N.S., added singles.

Jonathan Bernier of Laval, Que., made 21 saves.


Videos

Photos