Visentin, Bobkov face off again

London Knights goalie Igor Bobkov watches for the puck during the first period of a game against...

London Knights goalie Igor Bobkov watches for the puck during the first period of a game against the Niagara Icedogs at the John Labatt Centre. (SUE REEVE/QMI Agency)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 AM ET

They stood at opposite ends of the ice again.

Just like in Buffalo 10 days ago.

Igor Bobkov and Mark Visentin.

Two goalies, their names forever linked by one of the most incredible third periods in world junior hockey history.

The rusty Bobkov, in a nerve-testing relief role, became the picture of redemption while the Russians piled up five late goals against the Canadians for a shocking gold-medal victory.

In those 20 minutes, he and his teammates became national heroes.

And in the moment the affable mountain of a man from southern Siberia clutched that unbelievable gold medal in his big mitt, all the strikes adding up against him — losing the net after a Boxing Day defeat to the Canadians, his poor first half-season with the London Knights — washed away.

He’s a winner. The Anaheim Ducks prospect came through on junior hockey’s biggest stage when it counted most.

As he said, no one can take this away from him.

It’s his forever.

And how about Visentin?

The pain is still raw, the wounds fresh.

The Niagara IceDogs goalie, making his only visit to the John Labatt Centre Friday night, has been the league’s best puckstopper to date.

The Phoenix Coyotes first rounder’s numbers dwarf the output of Bobkov, who hasn’t been able to take the Knights’ crease away from Michael Houser.

Visentin started the world juniors as Canada’s backup to Olivier Roy, but after a shaky shootout loss to Sweden, grabbed the reins for the medal round.

He worked himself into the opportunity of a lifetime.

But things don’t always work out the way you dream them.

In the aftermath of the late collapse — labelled a national disaster by a country whose identity is so closely linked to the sport — the finger-pointing headed straight to head coach Dave Cameron, then the 18-year-old netminder he refused to pull while the carnage played out.

Losing is one thing. But failing like that, people start to wonder if it’ll stick to you forever.

Two goalies. Two different results. Two uncertain futures.

You never know with the guys in net. Their game is rooted in the mental, not so much the physical.

Will this, as the Knights hope, be the confidence boost Bobkov needs to help them in their post-trade deadline push to the playoffs?

Igor Bobkov and Mark Visentin.

Two goalies, their names forever linked by one of the most incredible third periods in world junior hockey history.

The rusty Bobkov, in a nerve-testing relief role, became the picture of redemption while the Russians piled up five late goals against the Canadians for a shocking gold-medal victory.

In those 20 minutes, he and his teammates became national heroes.

And in the moment the affable mountain of a man from southern Siberia clutched that unbelievable gold medal in his big mitt, all the strikes adding up against him — losing the net after a Boxing Day defeat to the Canadians, his poor first half-season with the London Knights — washed away.

He’s a winner. The Anaheim Ducks prospect came through on junior hockey’s biggest stage when it counted most.

As he said, no one can take this away from him.

It’s his forever.

And how about Visentin?

The pain is still raw, the wounds fresh.

The Niagara IceDogs goalie, making his only visit to the John Labatt Centre Friday night, has been the league’s best puckstopper to date.

The Phoenix Coyotes first rounder’s numbers dwarf the output of Bobkov, who hasn’t been able to take the Knights’ crease away from Michael Houser.

Visentin started the world juniors as Canada’s backup to Olivier Roy, but after a shaky shootout loss to Sweden, grabbed the reins for the medal round.

He worked himself into the opportunity of a lifetime.

But things don’t always work out the way you dream them.

In the aftermath of the late collapse — labelled a national disaster by a country whose identity is so closely linked to the sport — the finger-pointing headed straight to head coach Dave Cameron, then the 18-year-old netminder he refused to pull while the carnage played out.

Losing is one thing. But failing like that, people start to wonder if it’ll stick to you forever.

Two goalies. Two different results. Two uncertain futures.

You never know with the guys in net. Their game is rooted in the mental, not so much the physical.

Will this, as the Knights hope, be the confidence boost Bobkov needs to help them in their post-trade deadline push to the playoffs?

E-mail ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca, or follow Ryanpyette on Twitter.

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