Henderson's legacy

Junior players listen during practice in preparation for the Canada vs Russia Series. (Sun...

Junior players listen during practice in preparation for the Canada vs Russia Series. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:46 PM ET

It may not have the same significance or long-term impact that the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union had on Canadian hockey.

But as the Canadian under-20 team prepared for the eight-game Super Series between the best teenagers in Canada and the Soviet Union, Canadian hockey officials prepared their players by showing them clips of that 1972 series.

While older fans have no trouble remembering the bedlam that followed that series, many of these Canadian junior players don't know the intricacies of that event.

Londoner Drew Doughty, a defenceman with the Guelph Storm, is the second-youngest player on the Canadian team. Even though this will be his third year in the OHL, he isn't eligible for the NHL draft until June. Only Oshawa Generals forward John Tavares is younger than Doughty.

"I didn't know much about it until (Monday)," Doughty said of the '72 series that saw Canada win with a last-minute goal by Paul Henderson in the eighth game in Moscow. It was played almost 18 years before Doughty was born.

"The only thing I really know about it is that Henderson goal," Doughty said. "But they showed us the video of the series, sort of the highlights (Monday.)"

It would be almost impossible to reconstruct the atmosphere of what happened in 1972.

But this Super Series is moving along nicely on the hype-meter.

The Canadian team was officially announced yesterday and there's a lot of talent. Many of these players will have a leg up on making the world junior team as this tournament will take the place of the summer evaluation camp.

Joining Doughty to make up a strong local component is London Knights goalie Steve Mason and forward Sam Gagner, along with St. Thomas native Cory Emmerton, a Kingston Frontenac.

Missing the series will be Quebec league star Angelo Esposito, with a groin injury.

The series begins Monday in Ufa, 1,200 kilometres east of Moscow.

TSN and Sportsnet will combine to televise all eight games live.

The team left last night after only one skate together but will practice twice a day in Russia.

"We really haven't done much together other than media stuff, but it's a really solid team," said Doughty, guaranteed to be one of the top picks in the 2008 NHL draft. "We've only had one practice but I think this team is going to jell together quickly because players know each other from previous tournaments, like the under-18 tournament."

Doughty has never played in Russia but has been in Belarus. He's been anxious to be a part of this series after first hearing about it.

"I was just hoping. It's something I was looking forward to. When I got the phone call that I was going to be on the team, I just started working really hard to get ready for this. It's a big thing for me."

Doughty has been in a gym and on the ice twice a week. He's not worried about the big ice in Russia.

"The bigger ice surface is more of an advantage because I like the skating game, the rushing game, I can move around."

For such a young player, Doughty has played a lot of hockey. He had a good world junior camp last year, but didn't make it.

"Sometimes I still do feel I'm young. Even though I'm going into my third year, I'm still younger than some of the kids, except the rookies.

"This will help with the world junior team. A lot of the coaches don't get a chance to see me a lot during the season. Hopefully, I can show them I can play in this situation."

Doughty did learn one thing from watching the 1972 Summit Series highlights.

"You can get an idea of how important it is when we play Russia. You really want to win."

SERIES SCHEDULE

Monday: at Ufa, Russia, 9 a.m.

Aug. 29: at Ufa, Russia, 9 a.m.

Aug. 31: at Omsk, Russia, 8 a.m.

Sept. 1: at Omsk, Russia, 6 a.m.

Sept. 4: at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.

Sept. 5: at Saskatoon, 8 p.m.

Sept. 7: at Red Deer, 10 p.m.

Sept. 9: at Vancouver, 8 p.m.

ESPOSITO OUT

Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Angelo Esposito has been ruled out of the Canada-Russia Super Series with a groin injury. Esposito, taken in the first round of the June draft, was expected to be one of the offensive leaders for the Canadian team. The 18-year-old will not be replaced for the four-game Russian leg of the series. The Montreal native had 27 goals and 52 assists in 60 games for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL last season.


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