Howden battled through tournament
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|Canada forward Quinton Howden collides with Finland's Rasmus Ristolainen during their World Junior Hockey Championship bronze medal match in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 5, 2012. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - It wasn't an easy tournament for Quinton Howden.
The Team Canada forward was drilled by his own teammate during selection camp and was slowed by his upper-body injury early on, participating in two pre-tournament games before the Boxing Day kickoff.
But it was a great finish for the Oakbank, Man., product who scored Canada's last two goals in the bronze-medal game against Finland as the hosts came away with a 4-0 shutout.
"It was good. The two goals was kind of a bonus," said the 6-foot-3, 183 pounder. "Our line was sent out to play against the Granlund line. They're a very skilled line and I thought we did a good job of handling them.
"We're going to cherish this medal."
They all worked hard to come away with the bronze, but Howden played sick or hurt all the way through.
"Yeah. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. The injury kind of set me back a bit but I got pretty sick there for a while," Howden said. "A lot of stuff that I've been battling, but the game allows you to battle through and keep going.
"I don't think I've had a healthy day since I've been here."
AGAINST THE GLASS
Tanner Pearson picked a great time to score his first goal of the tournament, putting the Canadians ahead 1-0 before the midway mark of the first period with a great deflection from the top of the crease ... Pearson did all the dirty work on his team's second goal as well, stealing the puck along the boards and then feeding Barrie Colts teammate Mark Scheifele in the slot in the second period .. Watching a little four-on-four action with one player from each side sitting in the penalty box in the first period, you have to wonder if it might be a smart idea for the NHL to go with bigger rinks. They'd never go with four-on-four as the norm, and a larger surface is one of the ideas that's been thrown out there in concussion-prevention talks. It would give players more room to avoid big hits. An added benefit is more open space to skate and get offensively creative ... In case you're wondering what the future of Russian hockey looks like, they beat the U.S. 7-4 in Windsor, Ont., to win their first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge since 2000. Yikes.
IN THE CREASE
It was nice to see Mark Visentin look good in goal again for the Canadians with a medal on the line. Not only because he was the scapegoat in last year's gold-medal game collapse, but also because he was solid in relief of Scott Wedgewood in the semifinal loss to the Russians this week. Most of all, because he's a mature and accountable player who never looks to pass blame on to someone else ... Visentin came up big on a breakaway save on Calgary Flames prospect Markus Granlund, a penalty shot by Teemu Pulkkinen and a miraculous backward mid-air swipe with the glove as the puck headed over the goal-line in the third period ... The 'other goalie,' Finland's Sami Aittokallio, had a decent day despite the loss. He was under fire all day -- facing 40 shots before the midway mark of the third period -- and also faced some serious traffic. Quinton Howden hit him with a hip while flying past the crease, knocking off his helmet in the process. No way was he coming out, though. Finns were probably happy considering the other guy -- Chris Gibson -- got shelled on Boxing Day during Canada's 8-1 victory in the tourney opener.
Jamie Oleksiak stands 6-foot-7 and weighs around 240 lb., and he put most of that leverage into a great check along the boards that sent Finland forward Mikael Kuronen crashing to the ice in the second period ... Things got pretty physical, and a little chippy. You know there's a bit of bad blood when you take a tripping penalty at the end of a period while the buzzer is going off as Brendan Gallagher did before the second intermission ... Interesting to see head coach Don Hay scribbling notes with 14 seconds left in a 4-0 win. Thinking about next year already? ... Had to wonder as he walked out on the ice in his walking boot to collect a bronze medal what kind of impact Devante Smith-Pelly might have had if he didn't break his foot in the opening game.
No matter happens today most Cdn players can take solace in the fact they'll go on to make millions of dollars before getting concussed
-- Calgary Sun's Eric Francis (@ericfrancis)
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane