Memories abound

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Mike Richards bolted from his hotel room, grabbed a snack to go and raced over to the Air Canada Centre.

With the Swedes and Canadians tied at 2-2 after 60 minutes in the final at the world junior hockey championship, Richards made a quick exit for the rink in order to catch the beginning of overtime.

As is often the case these days, Richards didn't miss anything.

First he watched the Canadian juniors win their fourth consecutive gold medal, a 3-2 victory over Sweden in the Czech Republic.

About six hours later, the Kenora native led his Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Maple Leafs, scooping in the winning goal on the power play with less than three minutes remaining.

All three goal scorers for the Flyers -- Richards, Steve Downie and Jeff Carter -- won gold medals in the past while representing Canada at the world junior, so perhaps they were buoyed by the efforts of the Canadian kids yesterday.

"(The Canadians) really deserved it," said Richards, who won a small wager with American teammate Mike Knuble over the outcome of the Canada-US semi-final Thursday.

"I'm glad I got here in time to see them win."

Richards, Downie and Carter were among 12 former Team Canada juniors who played in the Leafs-Flyers tilt last night. It was a special night for Downie, whose goal was his first in the National Hockey League.

"It's a childhood dream come true," he said.

The Leafs contingent of former Team Canada juniors included forwards Darcy Tucker (1995), Boyd Devereaux ('97), Matt Stajan ('03), Kyle Wellwood ('03), and defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo ('02-'03) and Ian White ('03). Injured defenceman Bryan McCabe played for the Canadian juniors in 1994 and '95 while hobbled forward Mark Bell was on the 2000 team.

Representatives on the Flyers included forwards Daniel Briere (1997), Joffrey Lupul (2003), Richards ('04-'05), Carter ('04-'05), Downie ('06-'07) and defenceman Braydon Coburn ('04-'05). Injured players Scottie Upshall ('02-'03), Simon Gagne ('99) and goalie Martin Biron ('96) all played for Canada as well.

White said the victory by the Canadian juniors stirred up memories of his stint in red and white.

"It's special," White said. "I know how nervous those guys must have been over there.

"I still have my Team Canada jersey at home. Other than my first NHL game, playing for Canada at the world juniors is the highlight of my hockey career."


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