Flames brace for border war

Robyn Regehr, left, and Eric Nystrom will agree to disagree on this one. Regehr is rooting for Team...

Robyn Regehr, left, and Eric Nystrom will agree to disagree on this one. Regehr is rooting for Team Canada in today’s gold-medal game, while Nystrom is supporting his fellow Americans. (MIKE DREW/CALGARY SUN)

IAN BUSBY,QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

The Calgary Flames have a divided dressing room right now.

With four Americans in the mix, things are getting a little tense because of Sunday’s U.S. vs. Canada gold-medal matchup in men’s hockey at the Olympics.

Everyone else, it seems, is rooting for Flames captain Jarome Iginla and the rest of Team Canada.

Even with his captain on the other side, Eric Nystrom’s patriotism overshadows it.

“It’s hard to cheer so hard against them,” said Nystrom, who hails from Syosset, N.Y. “Jarome is playing so well for Canada, and he’s one of our good friends.

“He’s our leader and I want to see him do well, but America is my country, so I’m a bit torn there.

“I’ve played for the U.S. I’m USA through and through.

I bleed red, white and blue.

I love the country. I’m pretty proud.”

Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester has already heard enough about how great the Americans are doing in Vancouver.

They lead the medal count, and they have stolen a bit of the show from the hosts.

Some payback Sunday would be sweet for Bouwmeester, who was disappointed he wasn’t named to Team Canada but is still rooting hard for his country.

“They are already giving us the gears about all the medals they have,” said Bouwmeester, who grew up in Edmonton.

“There’s only one way to shut them up and that will be if we win (Sunday).”

Nothing is more annoying than a loudmouth American, especially when they are on top. But veteran centre Craig Conroy had to live through being around a bunch of Canadians when the U.S. lost at Salt Lake, and it’s not something he cares to relive.

“You just have to be quiet and let them cheer,” said the Potsdam, N.Y., product.

“It’s fun. Canada is so passionate about it and the U.S. is coming along. Hopefully, we can do the same thing the world junior team did.”

Canada lost the most recent international tourney on home soil when the U.S. had an upset overtime victory in at the world juniors in Saskatoon.

An American victory Sunday would be an even bigger deal and should get much more attention in the U.S. as well, something Robyn Regehr can’t fathom happening.

“If the Americans win, they probably make another movie about it,” Regehr said. “We certainly don’t want to see that happen. I actually don’t mind (the Americans). I just hope the Americans don’t win because I won’t want to be around them afterwards.”

Just like Friday when the U.S. beat Finland, Conroy is rooting against NHL teammates. Niklas Hagman and Miikka Kiprusoff were knocked out of gold contention when the U.S. beat them 5-1 Friday afternoon.

So when he was asked for a prediction, Conroy was quite specific.

“I’m thinking 4-3 for the U.S. Iggy may get a hat-trick, but we’re still going to win,” Conroy said. “I can’t believe how the young guys are playing. They look like veterans. They are playing great.”

Growing up in the U.S., the 1980 Miracle on Ice is a huge deal for American hockey players.

And Nystrom hopes more people will become fans by watching Sunday’s game.

“This is a big game for hockey, a lot of exposure,” Nystrom said. “I hope there will be a lot of people watching and the fans will get to see why this sport is so great.

“This is one of the times hockey does come to the forefront. Americans seem to pay attention to Olympic hockey for some reason, not so much NHL hockey. There will be a lot of people tuned into it.

“I hope it’s a good game.”


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