McCabe, fans welcome nats

MIKE ZEISBERGER

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

Bryan McCabe wanted to offer his personal congratulations to Canada's conquering heroes.

So once the pre-game ceremony involving six players from the gold-medal Canadian junior team had concluded last night, the Maple Leafs defenceman took time out to shake hands with each one of them before they walked off the ice.

"It was a chance to tell them what a great job they did," McCabe said.

McCabe won gold medals with the 1994 and 1995 Canadian world junior teams.

"Those were probably among the best experiences of my life," he said.

"I'll always keep them close to my heart."

The juniors in attendance were Ryan Parent, Ryan O'Marra, Andrew Cogliano, Steve Downie, James Neal and Sam Gagner.

"We just landed about an hour or so before the game," said Parent, a defenceman with the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm.

"They didn't think we'd be up to coming to the game, but we wanted to.

"It was an unbelievable experience to be here and hear the fans cheer for us."

Alas, there is no rest for the fatigued.

Parent is scheduled to suit up today when his Storm plays host to the Kingston Frontenacs.

STAR STRUCK

Lineups for the American Hockey League all-star game will be announced in the coming days.

"It will be interesting to see if any Marlies make it," Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said last night. "They are all up here with the Leafs."

The two-day all-star celebration takes place later this month in Toronto.

The skills competition takes place on Jan. 28 at the Ricoh Coliseum followed by a party at Montana's.

The afternoon of Jan. 29 will feature an all-star luncheon which is expected to be headlined by guest speaker Don Cherry. The game takes place later in the day at Ricoh.

Anselmi estimates more than half of the approximately 9,000 ducats have been told.

TIckets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.ca


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