It's all set for an exciting finish

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

LEKSAND, Sweden -- If the 11 returning players who helped Canada win gold at the world junior last winter need inspiration today, they need only to dip into their memory banks.

"Getting that taste of it, knowing what it is like," forward Jonathan Toews said in reference to the feeling of capturing gold in Vancouver a year ago.

"When everyone back home is watching, you can be the country's hero for a night and to get that feeling (again) would be unbelievable. That's what I'm playing for, everyone back home and the guys on our team. We want to hear our anthem one more time, standing on that blue line."

Toews' gold medal and sweater from last year hang by the fireplace at his parents' home in Winnipeg.

The Canadian players agreed yesterday after practice at Ejendals Arena there is no better opponent than Russia to play for gold.

Steve Downie had a quick response when he was asked what compares to a hockey game between Canada and Russia with everything at stake.

"Nothing," Downie said. "This is where we wanted to be when we got here. For some of us, after last year, it is Round 2."

Even Russian forward Alexei Cherepanov, using team leader Sergei Nemchinov as a translator, said facing Canada was the end all and be all.

"It's going to be exciting," Cherepanov said. "Canada is the world champion and the two best teams are in the final."

DO IT AGAIN

Canada had Russia running last year in the gold-medal game with some big body-checks early and plans to do the same today.

"The first shift Downie annihilated some guy in the corner and everything fell into place," Andrew Cogliano said. "We need to establish ourselves from the beginning, get a goal or two to start and I think we will be okay."

Is coach Craig Hartsburg worried calls could go against his team?

"They are unpredictable," Hartsburg said of the referees. "I think our focus is on the pretty good job we did (in the semi-final)."

NOT MY DAD

Russian forward Igor Makarov is the son of Sergei Makarov, but not the one who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1989-90.

Igor's father played in the Russian Hockey League and spent one season with Detroit of the Colonial Hockey League.


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