Bolland given hero's welcome

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

David Bolland never dreamed anything could top the celebration that rocked the John Labatt Centre last May when the London Knights won the Memorial Cup.

Then again, the 19-year-old had never played for his country in the world junior hockey championship.

"This is scary -- going out there in front of this crowd -- but it feels cool," Bolland said last night, moments before skating onto the ice to a thunderous standing ovation from 9,090 fans.

Bolland stepped off a plane from Vancouver and his thoughts immediately turned to getting back into a Knights uniform for their OHL game against the Belleville Bulls.

The goosebumps were still present as 22 hours earlier, clear across the country, the fourth-year Knights forward was part of Canada's gold-medal victory.

The 5-0 win against Russia gave Canada its second straight world junior title.

Bolland was the last player cut from the 2005 junior team and he said that experience, plus seeing the Knights' Corey Perry and Danny Syvret return from Grand Forks, N.D., a year ago with gold medals, served as motivation for him.

"I remember watching on TV and seeing them get their medals," said Bolland.

, who drew a big cheer when he was shown on the JLC videoboard having a gold medal placed around his neck during the post-game ceremony at GM Place.

"Then that first night Corey and Syvie were back here and the cheer they got from our fans, I gave myself a little knock and said this is where I want to be and I want to be able to come back here and do the same thing."

Bolland said the experience is something he'll always cherish, but Thursday's crowd of 18,900, singing O Canada en masse, was still ringing in his ears last night.

"I never thought it would be that big," he said of the tournament. "I never thought there would be that much pressure. Knowing there were that many people watching us there and at home on TV, it's huge."

There's no other sporting event in this country that stirs national pride quite like the annual world junior hockey championship.

That's reflected by the numbers that watched the gold-medal game on TSN. The Bureau of Broadcast Measurement said the TV audience peaked at 4.25 million, before finishing with a national average audience of 3.31 million.

BBM said it was the most-watched program on Canadian television this week.

"They were all watching us -- that's awesome," Bolland said.

The experience wasn't quite as rewarding for Knights forward Rob Schremp, who was playing with the U.S. and finished fourth after many predicted a gold or silver medal.

The fans in Vancouver booed unmercifully the young Americans to where it became an embarrassment in other parts of this nation.

"I'm going to apply for dual citizenship so I can play for Canada in the Olympics and have the Canadian crowd on my side," Schremp jokingly said last night before Knights fans greeted him with a standing ovation.

But it was easy to see the Vancouver experience bothered Schremp, who said he couldn't wait to get back to London for last night's game.

"They're idiots," he said of the crowd in Vancouver. "I don't think the guys from my team really understood it. I told them 'this isn't Canadian hockey, these aren't Canadian fans.' I don't know if they were threatened that we were favoured in the tournament, but it was pretty embarrassing when they were cheering for Russia instead of us (in the semifinals).

"But coming from London, I know what kind of fans we have here and I'm glad to come back to home. I want to bring a championship back to London and that experience (in Vancouver) has nothing to do with the rest of my season.

"I wanted to get back to somewhere it's fun to play and get my mind off that."

It was back to reality for Bolland when the puck was dropped to begin last night's game.

"Vancouver happened too fast," he said of his golden triumph. "It just came and went. It was here and then it was gone. You savour by the moment, really."

Dreams are like that.

GAME COVERAGE: PAGES E1, 2

"Then that first night Corey and Syvie were back here and the cheer they got from our fans, I gave myself a little knock and said this is where I want to be and I want to be able to come back here and do the same thing," Bolland said.

He drew a big cheer when he was shown last night on the JLC videoboard having a gold medal placed around his neck during the post-game ceremony at GM Place.

Bolland said the experience is something he'll always cherish, but Thursday's crowd of 18,900, singing O Canada en masse, was still ringing in his ears last night.

"I never thought it would be that big," he said of the tournament. "I never thought there would be that much pressure. Knowing there were that many people watching us there and at home on TV, it's huge."

There's no other sporting event in this country that stirs national pride quite like the annual world junior hockey championship.

That's reflected by the numbers that watched the gold-medal game on TSN. The Bureau of Broadcast Measurement said the TV audience peaked at 4.25 million, before finishing with a national average audience of 3.31 million.

BBM said it was the most-watched program on Canadian television this week.

"They were all watching us -- that's awesome," Bolland said.

The experience wasn't quite as rewarding for Knights forward Rob Schremp, who was playing with the U.S. and finished fourth after many predicted a gold or silver medal.

The fans in Vancouver booed unmercifully the young Americans to where it became an embarrassment in other parts of this nation.

"I'm going to apply for dual citizenship so I can play for Canada in the Olympics and have the Canadian crowd on my side (in the 2010 Games in Vancouver)," Schremp jokingly said last night before Knights fans greeted him with a standing ovation.

But it was easy to see the Vancouver experience bothered Schremp, who said he couldn't wait to get back to London for last night's game.

"They're idiots," he said of the crowd in Vancouver. "I don't think the guys from my team really understood it. I told them, 'This isn't Canadian hockey, these aren't Canadian fans.' I don't know if they were threatened that we were favoured in the tournament, but it was pretty embarrassing when they were cheering for Russia instead of us (in the semifinals).

"But coming from London, I know what kind of fans we have here and I'm glad to come back home. I want to bring a championship back to London and that experience (in Vancouver) has nothing to do with the rest of my season.

"I wanted to get back to somewhere it's fun to play and get my mind off that."

It was back to reality for Bolland when the puck was dropped to begin last night's game.

"Vancouver happened too fast," he said of his golden triumph. "It just came and went. It was here and then it was gone. You savour by the moment, really."

Dreams are like that.


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