January 5, 2010
Ending didn't fit scriptEberle's heroics not enough to save Canadian juniors
By TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY
SASKATOON -- This was just wrong. So wrong.
Great Canadian hockey stories end up with Canada winning 6-5, not losing.
And great Canadian junior hockey stories end up with Jordan Eberle the hero.
O.K, the legend of Jordan Eberle just grew again. Is it possible for a junior hockey player possibly have a bigger impact on big games than this kid? Who knew that what Eberle did last year at the World Junior would just be the appetizer.
But the ending didn't fit the script.
The hero with his goal with 5.4 seconds to play against the Russia in the semifinal to get the game to overtime and the shootout last year in Ottawa brought Canada back with two goals in the last three minutes to do it again in the gold-medal game to set Canada up for a record six golds in a row.
Scoring on a power play with 2:49 left and then pulling the trigger again with 1:35 to go, the Regina Pats star player and first-round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers created one of the most amazing scenes in the history of this tournament.
But John Carlson scored 4:21 into overtime. And the Canadians were left standing on the blueline listening to the American anthem and receiving silver medals.
If it was going to work out this way, it might as well have stayed the way it was before Eblerle tried to save the day.
For the longest time, it looked like Marc-Andre Fleury would have to move over to make room for a bookend friend.
It was Fleury who imploded in the gold medal game of the world juniors in 2004 to give the U.S. its first ever under-20 hockey title.
This one gave the Americans their second.
Canada would win the next five.
And it was Jake Allen who failed to handle a long shot, the fat rebound ending up on the stick of American captain Derek Stepan, who made one move and gave the Americans a 5-3 lead at 6:23 of the third period.
Allen was pulled from the nets to make way for Martin Jones just like Mike Lee had to make way for Jack Campbell in the U.S. nets.
Until Kyle Palmieri took a charging penalty for running goaltender Jones, it looked like this time the Canadians wouldn't be able to storm back from down two goals.
But even with the emotion and heart of the kids from the No. 1 nation in hockey wouldn't be able to repeat the feat from the New Year's Eve game here, when Eberle scored two goals and another in the shootout for the 5-4 win.
After he scored the two late tallies to send this to overtime, the crowd stood for the entire intermission savouring the scene the Saskatchewan native had manufactured.
They roared as the team returned to the ice to make history. Then they stood in respect, cheering Canada's player of the game, Eberle, but also paying the Americans off for their tournament.
The atmosphere was wonderful when the teams took the warmup, as 'Toon Town gave Team Canada a standing ovation when they took the ice and then stood to watch the entire warm-up.
And it just kept getting better as the night progressed.
Maybe the best part was that Pepsi's insufferable attempt -- at great expense and with great energy -- to give its 'Eh! O Canada! Go!' chant a chance to get a foothold here to take to the Olympics was rejected spectacularly this night.
It was bombing all tournament, but as hired people planted in the crowd tried to get it going, the fans responded with the good old 'Go Canada Go' or 'Let's Go Canada. Let's go.'
The Credit Union Centre was sold out with a crowd of 15,171 almost of all them wearing red in a province where green is the colour. Only the gold-medal game and the New Year's Eve game provided sellouts in the freshly expanded Credit Union Centre. But the tournament ended up with a paid attendance of 333,123.
Ottawa established the record last year at 453,282. Vancouver in 2006 claimed 325,138.
But the number of all numbers at this event, and in it's crazy way the legacy of Regina-Saskatoon 2010, was the 50-50, which likely set a world record here Tuesday with a one-game payout of $149,700 to the winner. For the entire tournament, it paid out almost $1 million to the winners.
A lot of people went home from here happy. But not Tuesday.