Cheers for juniors

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The roar in the Maple Leafs dressing room Saturday night wasn't from the Russian contingent, you can be sure.

But as forward Dominic Moore was in the middle of discussing the latest win over the Ottawa Senators, the noise from the players lounge, where most of the team was glued to the television, interrupted the scrum.

The cause for the celebration, of course, was Team Canada forward Jordan Eberle's tying goal with five seconds left to force the world junior championship semifinal against Russia into overtime.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson even delayed his post-game press conference as he watched the overtime and shootout from his Air Canada Centre office.

"That was a heck of a performance to come back with five seconds left and win," Wilson said of Canada's dramatic win to set up tonight's gold medal game against Sweden. "To not give up was pretty impressive."

Wilson said a late lack of poise by the Russians allowed what looked like the unthinkable to happen.

"Junior kids are either going to rise to the occasion or crack," Wilson said. "And the Russian defenceman kind of cracked. It looked bleak (for Canada). With 10 seconds to go, I thought the game was over."

HELP ON ITS WAY

With three games in five nights this week, the Leafs will get some welcome reinforcements by the weekend.

Rookie defenceman Luke Schenn (sprained knee) likely will be in the lineup for tomorrow's home game against the Florida Panthers.

Schenn has been participating fully in practice for a week now and Wilson believes the steady defenceman is ready to bring his physical presence back to the lineup.

The coach also is hoping the team's leading scorer, Matt Stajan, returns by week's end. Wilson said Stajan has been given clearance to return to practice after suffering a freak eye injury on Dec. 17. The Leafs play in Montreal on Thursday and in Philadelphia on Saturday.

"I haven't seen the medical report, but he's been given the thumbs up to start exercising again," Wilson said.


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