SUN Hockey Pool

Cammalleri red with envy

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Michael Cammalleri won a pair of medals at the world juniors.

He was named top forward, an all-star and top scorer at the 2002 tournament.

Still, the Calgary Flames forward would love to have experienced something else beyond winning gold while donning the Maple Leaf.

Playing in Canada.

"I envy those guys. I've been lucky enough to represent Canada five or six times, but it's always been in Eastern Europe," Cammalleri said. "That's great and a cool feeling to go there, but at the same time, I'm envious of the guys who play in Canada.

"I can't imagine the fan support. The support we felt over there through e-mail and TSN was great, but not like here.

"Someday, I'd love to play for Canada in Canada. Help me get on Team Canada for 2010."

Starting today in Ottawa, the latest wave of junior stars will begin battling for the 2009 World Junior Championship title.

It will mean all kinds of scrutiny for the 22 young men who'll play on home ice.

All kinds of pressure, too.

The Flames have a couple of players who have skated at the tournament in their home country, and they insist it's not too much pressure to bear.

"The biggest pressure was making the team out of camp," said Dustin Boyd, who won gold in Vancouver in 2006.

"There are so many good players across Canada and a lot of good players didn't make the team.

"That was one of the most fun tournaments I've played in. To play for Canada in your own country is surreal. There was a big buzz in the city, but we pretty much stayed in the hotel and did a lot of team lunches and team building. It was good that way, but we couldn't really go out and get to walk the streets."

Boyd also experienced the world juniors as a youngster when it was held in his hometown of Winnipeg.

Robyn Regehr was part of Canada's silver-medal winning team at that 1999 tournament and relished every minute. Well, except for losing to Russia in overtime in the final.

"We had to go to Lake of the Woods, Ont., and it was about minus-40," Regehr recalled.

"I had the enjoyment of being in Manitoba and Ontario and it was colder than Saskatchewan. The tournament, it was a lot of fun. It was tremendous for us ... especially as the tournament wore on. You could feel it building and building and the people were supporting us, but it was a great experience.

"It helped me through the rest of my career. You see it, not just the regular season but the playoffs. When the Stanley Cup playoffs come, there's more attention on the team, on individuals, and you have to learn to deal with that.

"The only negative thing is we ended up losing in overtime and it was tough to take."

The tournament in Winnipeg was only a few years after the Jets left for Phoenix, so the Manitoba capital was starving for hockey at a high level.

That tournament delivered.

Regehr remembers after a win, during the playing of the national anthem, a fan jumped on the ice.

"He started running around and getting the crowd going," Regehr said with a laugh. "He was probably running around for two or three minutes, just having a blast, before security got him. He was fully clothed, not streaking, but you could tell how excited and emotional he was about being involved in the whole atmosphere."

It's an atmosphere exclusive to Canada, which Eric Nystrom noticed when he played for the U.S. in Halifax in 2003.

"This is where it should be. The fans love it. The media loves it. It's a lot different than when you go to another place and there's not much coverage. The only team getting coverage are the Canadians," said Nystrom, whose squad lost to Canada in the semifinal. "It was one of the best atmospheres I've played in. It was great being the underdog on such a big stage.

FLAMES ON THE WORLD STAGE

How current Calgary Flames have fared at the world junior tournament:

- Adrian Aucoin, Canada, 1993: Gold

- Dustin Boyd, Canada, 2006: Gold

- Michael Cammalleri, Canada, 2001: Bronze; 2002: Silver

- Jarome Iginla, Canada, 1996: Gold

- Miikka Kiprusoff, Finland, 1995: 4th; 1996: 6th

- Daymond Langkow, Canada, 1996: Gold

- Eric Nystrom, USA, 2002: 5th; 2003: 4th

- Dion Phaneuf, Canada, 2004: Silver; 2005: Gold

- Robyn Regehr, Canada 1999: Silver

- Cory Sarich, Canada, 1997: Gold; 1998: 8th

- Rhett Warrener, Canada, 1996: Gold


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