Canada's golden boys get back to normal

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

For golden boy Ryan Parent, there was no rest for the victor.

Following a five-hour flight from Vancouver, the day after Canada struck gold at the world junior hockey championship, Parent had little more than an hour to rush off to Guelph for an OHL game against the visiting Brampton Battalion.

For the smooth skating defenceman, the past two weeks have been a joyous experience that culminated in their 5-0 romp over Russia in the gold-medal game.

"It's unbelievable, just winning with a group of guys like that," Parent said of the accomplishment. "It's something I'll remember for the rest of your life. Right now it might all seem a little more surreal than it actually is. In a few years, I'll look back and really appreciate it."

Canada may have ended up dominating the tournament, but they didn't go into it as the favourites.

But one thing that couldn't be measured, Parent believes, was the collective heart and will of the team.

"I think that was the biggest thing, that we were the best team in the tournament," he said. "We might not have had a certain individual that was outstanding like Russia's (Evgeni) Malkin, but we were the best team and it paid off in the end.

"Playing in our own rink (country), you get the passion and all the enthusiasm for all the games and everybody just gets that much more motivated to play."

The bonding of the team, Parent believes, came early, before the tournament started.

"Pretty much from Day 1, even during the trial camp. That was one of the big things Brent Sutter (Canada's coach) was trying to introduce -- teamwork. It really helped out and everything brought the team that much closer."

The joy of victory was soon followed by the pain of saying goodbye.

"It was pretty tough," Parent said. "Last night (Thursday) we said goodbye to all the different guys. We all had different flights. It was tough to say goodbye."

Prior to the final game, the Russians were the club that was doing all the talking, and it provided an extra bit of motivation.

"It motivates you a little bit to hear quotes like that," Parent said. "It just wants to make you beat them. But we had to come out and play our own game, a team game. And that's what won for us."

As for what awaits in his hometown of Sioux Lookout, Parent isn't quite sure.

"It's up there," Parent said when asked if it was the biggest thing to hit his hometown. "I won't be back for a couple of months. It (all the excitement) might die down in a couple of months."

As for the medal, he said he hasn't given much thought as to where he'll display it.

"I don't know, maybe just hang it on the wall on top of my jersey," he said.

"Maybe hang my game stick up as well."

One thing for sure -- he'll never get tired of looking at it.


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