Journal Entry: January 2nd, 2002
This is where we wanted to be, the gold medal game. When we talked about today's game against the Swiss with the players we called it the silver medal game, not the semi-final- win it and we have the silver medal. Now we're back in the gold medal game for the first time since '99 in Winnipeg. I was an assistant coach in that game and we played against the Russians in that one too, losing a tight game in overtime. Obviously we're looking to make up for that and to have their time in the Canadian Hockey age-group program end on a high note.
This is a team that is put together every December but the fact is a lot of these guys have played together for a few years now. There's a core group of guys who were on the under-18 team a couple of years back. Tonight one of our key guys was Pascal Leclaire and he played the same way for us against the Swiss as he did when our team won the under-18 tournament.
We couldn't get a skate in today because we had the late game in our quarter-final. We were supposed to have ice time early but we went through an aerobic routine. Our trainer Colin Robinson took the players through it. We had a meeting, watched video and went through the scouting reports on the Swiss with our players. Then we took the players to an Italian restaurant. Afterwards we had the players shut it down for a while.
The Swiss did a great job scouting our powerplay. We had the best powerplay in the tournament but we didn't get a goal with the man-advantage in this game even though we had plenty of chances. That left it to our other guys to step up. Steve Ott picking up a shorthanded goal with a great forecheck with Jarret Stoll for the first goal. Brian Sutherby, one of our checkers, doing it again for us on the third goal. In between Mike Cammallieri scores another clutch goal for us--if he's 5-foot-8 then his heart is 5-foot-nine.
I don't know that there will be--or has to be--any big speeches from the coach before a final game like this. These players understand what's at stake. They know because they've come this far and not just played a bunch of games at this tournament. So many of these guys have put on the Canadian sweater for a few years now. A guy like Nick Schultz is playing with the Minnesota Wild, playing in the NHL, but he knows that this is a special opportunity and that there is a bond between these guys that you can't just put together over a few weeks in December. And they know that what happens between them lasts a lifetime. I look at Habby and here's a guy who played on a championship team in this tournament two decades ago. There's still something special whenever he talks to his team-mates who sang O Canada after the tournament. There's a friendship. There are also a lot of memories. I know it will be that way with our players. These are a great group of kids and they'll give their all to finish the job the right way.
They know all this coming in but they're reminded of it every day. We get e mails from all kinds of people offering support. We've had e-mails from Wayne Gretzky. The other day we had one from Barret Jackman from last year's team. We got a special one from Maxime Ouellet, the goaltender on our bronze medal team last year. I showed it to the team. They remember how hard he took the loss in last year's semi-final game. They'll be out there in the gold medal game doing what they have to do but they'll also be thinking of team mates like Maxime who can't be out there with them.
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications