Spirit of St. Louis

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

QUEBEC CITY -- Considering what kind of career he's had so far, you'd have figured Martin St. Louis would have heard it often.

"St. Louis! St. Louis! St. Louis!" the crowd chanted for the Laval, Que., product who scored two goals last night to lead Canada to a 3-2 win over Finland in a pre-tournament game before the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

"That was inspiring," he said. "It doesn't happen too many times. It hasn't happened to me many times at all," said the Tampa Bay Lightning star who won a Stanley Cup without hearing his name chanted like it was here.

"I couldn't believe how loud that crowd was," said coach Ken Hitchcock of the 7,238 fans who showed up at Colisee Pepsi to see the two teams that squared off in the gold medal game at last year's Worlds in Moscow.

That was a pretty impressive number, considering the Canadiens were playing Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series in Montreal.

But there are seven members of the Canadian team, including St. Louis who played before more people here when they were 12 and playing in the famed Quebec peewee tournament.

Nobody, however, chanted "St. Louis! St. Louis! St. Louis" when he played peewee.

A near-capacity crowd is expected here tomorrow night when Canada plays Russia.

PENALTY SHOT

Hitchcock liked what he saw at the front end of every period, but not at the end - especially at the end of the third when Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers was awarded a penalty shot with 75 seconds to play and Ville Peltonen, his Panthers teammate, scored at 19:13 when Ed Jovanovski went down as a resultof a puck in the face.

Edmonton native Jason Chimera of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored the other Canadian goal.

Tuomo Ruutu of the Carolina Hurricanes also scored for Finland.

Sherwood Park product Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes started in goal for Canada, giving up one goal in his 30 minutes in net, giving way to St. Labriel-de-Brandon, Que. native Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets who also gave up the one at the end after stopping Jokinen on the penalty shot.

"A lot of things early we liked a lot," said Hitchcock. "But our energy level dropped down quite a bit in the last five minutes of every period."

FORCED TO WITHDRAW

Ray Whitney, the Fort Saskatchewan product of the Carolina Hurricanes, was forced to withdraw from the Canadian roster due to a recurring ankle injury. With Team Canada electing not to replace him, it moves Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers one step closer to seeing tournament action.

Gagner, 18, was the youngest player in the NHL this year. He was named to Team Canada as the alternate forward.

"Gagner, I thought was really good," said Hitchcock. "For such a young kid walking into something like this was really good."

Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley, Chris Kunitz, Dan Hamhuis and Brent Burns have yet to join Team Canada.

The Finns roster features Nicklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild and Karri Ramo of the Tampa Bay Lightning in goal with Joni Pitkanen of the Oilers and Ville Koistinen of the Nashville Predators on defence.

Wild forward Mikku Koivu, Tuomo Ruuto of the Carolina Hurricanes, Ville Peltonen of the Panthers, Jussi Jokinen of the Lightning and Niko Kapanen of the Phoenix Coyotes play up front for Finland.

They'll play in a Quebec City pool with Germany, Norway and Slovakia while Canada is in a group with Slovenia, Latvia and the U.S. in Halifax.


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