Pressure won't cook Canucks

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

Part of the challenge for those around the Canadian junior team during the next couple of weeks will be keeping everyone else at bay.

Though the Canadians will have the advantage of playing before thousands of boisterous fans, the outside pressure will be immense.

"When you are playing in Europe, you don't turn on the TV and see world junior coverage 24 hours a day," Hockey Canada director of player personnel Blair Mackasey said. "You don't get that constant analysis, you don't get the distractions of families and friends and relatives.

"But these are things we have learned to deal with in the past."

One friend whom forward David Bolland won't be able to get away from is his teammate with the London Knights, Rob Schremp. They will put their Knights kinship aside on New Year's Eve when Canada meets the U.S.

The Americans are considered one of the favourites going into the tournament.

"We've talked about what it is going to be like playing against each other," said Bolland, a native of Mimico and a Chicago Blackhawks prospect. "We're good buddies, and it is going to come down to who wants it more. Coming back and wanting to show the gold medal off is a big incentive to me."

Those involved with the Canadian team have been repeating the same mantra -- they don't care that they are considered underdogs even though they are defending their gold medal on home soil. This club won't come close to equalling the one of a year ago in terms of talent. But in fairness, many consider the 2005 version that included players such as Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Richards and Dion Phaneuf to be the best world junior team the Canadians have iced.

But that's okay, Mackasey said.

"The U.S. will be extremely difficult and the Russians won't be far behind," Mackasey said. "I don't think it is a secret we are not going into this tournament as a favourite. The U.S. won two years ago and last year they were knocking on the door. The balance of power has shifted in international hockey to North America and I would expect the U.S. and Canada to be running at each other for the next 10 years."


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