At least Barker will dress for this one

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Today Cam Barker will go to the gold medal game of the world junior on the team bus.

Last year he went in the back seat of his parents car, his dad driving to Grand Forks, North Dakota from Winnipeg where he'd been sent home to recover from mononucleosis.

That night he went out on the ice after the win over Russia to collect the gold, wearing a Team Canada jersey over his street clothes.

Today he'll be out there on skates, the only returning member of last year's team, but with an asterisk, having only played the first three games in the tournament last year.

"I just feel so fortunate to get another crack at it. This year, if we win it, it will mean a lot more," said the defenceman from the Medicine Hat Tigers who was the third selection in the first round of the draft by the Chicago Blackhawks and started the season with the NHL team.

"Last year I was sick the whole tournament. Even at the Team Canada training camp I was feeling listless. Then during the tournament I didn't sleep for three days. I probably had it for months. It started like it was just a head cold."

When the team doctor made his diagnosis, they decided to send him home to Winnipeg not only for rest but to keep him away from the rest of the team.

"We drove back from Winnipeg for the gold medal game. We got there early so I could talk to the guys before the game and wish them luck."

Now, everywhere he goes in Vancouver, people are wishing him luck in today's Canada-Russia gold medal game at the World Junior.

"Things happen for a reason," he said. "If we win again this year, maybe I'll appreciate it more."

For a while there yesterday it looked like another Canadian player would end up missing out on the gold medal game for healthy reasons.

During practice here yesterday, Blake Comeau left the ice bent over in pain.

"He got a stick in the groin," said Sutter. "His own stick. That's a first. He'll be O.K.."

Comeau wasn't OK enough to visit the mixed zone to offer his version of how exactly he managed to do that to himself.


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