SUN Hockey Pool

Flames backing Canada

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Andrew Ference isn't surprised Canada is again playing for gold at the world junior hockey championship.

While the Russians, Canada's opponent in the final today (5 p.m., TSN), and Americans were favoured coming in thanks to talent-laden rosters, Canada has managed to run its winning streak to 11 games under coach Brent Sutter, including last year's dominant gold-medal performance.

The Calgary Flames defenceman, a world junior alumnus from the 1999 tournament in Winnipeg, says he wouldn't bet against that number reaching 12.

"I don't think you can ever be surprised with Canada," said Ference "Even if they're not the pre-tournament favourite, the coaching and the way Team Canada always has the tight-knit group of guys. They pick personalities and guys who they think will gel and work for the greater good of the team.

"That's always a leg up that Canada's always had."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter thinks the right countries made it to the final showdown.

"I think they're the two best teams in the tournament," said Sutter, Brent's brother. "The American team was the favourite because of the individual talent. The two teams in the gold-medal game are the two teams that are the best coached. The teams that play as teams.

"They both have identities and they're the teams that deserve to be there."


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