SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers offer juniors condolences

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 PM ET

You know you’ve had a tough loss when a last-place team feels really bad for you.

The Oilers sent their condolences from the Western Conference cellar Thursday morning, as the Team Canada Juniors and the rest of the stunned country tried to come to grips with Wednesday’s devastating gold medal collapse.

“It’s always tough,” said Taylor Hall, who knows what it feels like to lose the tournament after last year’s OT defeat against the Americans. “You really feel that you let some people down but it’s not true. I think the whole country is proud of the way they played. Ten straight appearances in the gold medal game is something special.

“A lot of those players are going on to have good NHL careers, be high picks, so in the big scheme of things it’s not that much.”

Goaltender Mark Visentin seemed in shock after giving up five third-period goals, and it must seem like the end of the world, but he’ll get over it, said Oilers counterpart Devan Dubnyk.

“I feel bad for him,” said Dubnyk. “I got to know him a little but when I helped out at the World Junior goalie camp in the summer. That was a pretty devastating game for everybody. I feel pretty bad for those guys. He’s going to remember that for a long time, but he’s a fantastic goaltender and the thing that you realize is that the sun comes up the next day. It might not feel like it but he’s going to get another game and another shot and a shot playing in the NHL. He has to remember it, remember what it feels like so the next time it doesn’t happen, but realize there’s certainly another day.”

Tom Renney, who’s seen his share of collapses, as well as third-period rallies, from Edmonton this year, marvelled at the Russian spirit.

“You have give that team credit, three times in a row they came from behind,” said the Oilers coach. “It wasn’t a matter of throwing hope to the wind, they made plays and the poor Canadian kids didn’t know what hit them.

“Whoever’s coaching hockey tonight might have a reference point in how to finish a hockey game.”

On the lighter side, netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who waited quietly while the Canadians, Swedes and Americans were doing their trash talking, wore his heart on his sleeve Thursday — a bright red parka with “RUSSIA” on the back from the 2002 Olympics.

“It’s kind of funny,” said Hall. “I didn’t expect that out of him. It’s not a good feeling to see.”

It was just a coincidence that Khabibulin didn’t get the start, right?

“He’s on his way to Oklahoma City right now,” joked Renney.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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