Juniors look a bit jittery

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

LEKSAND, Sweden -- Experience could not erase some alarming signs for Canada yesterday.

Despite the presence of 11 players who helped win the gold medal last winter in Vancouver, the Canadians were a jittery bunch through much of a 2-1 shootout win against the United States.

"The whole game we made mistakes with the puck that caused ourselves some grief and (goalie Carey Price) was there for us," coach Craig Hartsburg said. "We struggled with the puck and we looked uptight."

Canada can't afford the same kind of trepidation against Russia tomorrow in the gold-medal game. It's almost a certainty it will lose if it does.

As much as he was somewhat perplexed by his team's nerves, Hartsburg was relieved his players could falter and rebound. Canada did not generate many scoring chances through the first 40 minutes, with American goalie Jeff Frazee stoning Bryan Little on a power play in the second period on Canada's best chance.

"In every tournament or in every playoff series, there is a time where you have to face some adversity and (yesterday) we did," Hartsburg said. "We did not play our best and we have to come back and re-focus in practice (today)."

Having to face hardships in order to succeed is not necessarily true. Last year, Canada had a bit of trouble with the U.S. in the round-robin but registered shutouts in both the semi-final and gold-medal game. Yesterday, the U.S. was better for much of the match.

Canada has to find a way, as well, to get scoring from its forwards. This is one of the least opportunistic groups of forwards Canada has had in years at the world junior. Just nine goals in five games have been scored by those up front, not including yesterday's winner by Jonathan Toews.

Again, the other side of the coin shows Canada has allowed a mere five goals in five games. Canada set a world junior record in Vancouver when it gave up just six goals in six games.

"What's not to say about Carey Price?" forward Ryan O'Marra said. "He has been everything he needs to be and more. He has not only given us chances to win, he has won us games like he did (yesterday). We owe a lot to him."


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