Hockey Canada Network |
Team Canada Gears Up for New Year's Eve Date With USA
John Kurucz
December 30, 2005

After taking to the ice for an up-tempo, hour-long workout Friday morning, Team Canada faced a ton of media questions about the marquee New Year’s Eve matchup between the host nation and the United States.

“It has definitely been circled by a lot of the media,” said forward David Bolland. “And for us the time has come, and it’s going to be a big one. We know it’s going to be a big game, and we always have to go hard against these guys.”

Should the USA defeat Team Switzerland tonight, the December 31 contest will decide who finishes atop of Group A with an unblemished record.

Team Canada comes into the contest after posting three consecutive wins against the Finns, the Swiss and Team Norway, while the USA has scored 17 goals in two games against the Norwegians and Team Finland.

There’s little question Saturday’s tilt with the Americans will be Canada’s toughest match in Round Robin play to date.

“You’re obviously always aware of the opposition, and the key players on the opposition,” said Team Canada Head Coach Brent Sutter. “There’s a game plan that you go in with, and we’re certainly going to have be disciplined within our own game plan. Part of that will rely on our awareness of who we’re playing against and doing a good job against them.”

Sutter stressed the need for his team to play a quick-skating, physical brand of hockey to be successful versus the Americans, and said his forwards need to create more traffic in front of the net than they did against the Norwegians.

“Even though [Norwegian goaltender Lars Haugen] had 50 shots on net, I thought he had seen a lot of those shots,” Sutter said. “You have to make it difficult on goalies to see shots and so you’ve got to have guys get [to the front of the net].”

With all the media hype surrounding the much anticipated contest, both Sutter and his players addressed the question of nerves going into tomorrow’s game.

“The thing about all of this is obviously we know the importance of the game and we know our opponent,” Sutter said. “Whether the kids are going to be too high or uptight, I can’t answer that right now. I hope we’re neither – I hope we stay level-headed, on an even keel and just go play and play like we can.”

Undaunted by the prospect of going up against the likes of Team USA forwards Phil Kessel and Robbie Schremp, Steve Downie expressed confidence in his team’s defence and its mental toughness in preparing for the game.

“You don’t really pay attention to [the pressure],” Downie said. “Our focus is on us and the way we play, and that’s how we’re going to keep things. We’ve got some great defencemen, and I’m totally comfortable with our defence back there. They’re solid.”

Another prominent storyline is the matchup between two 2006 NHL draft prospects who will vie for the #1 spot, Team USA’s Phil Kessel and Canada’s Jonathan Toews.

“There’s going to be a lot of people watching him, and obviously he’s a highly touted prospect, and definitely a player to watch,” Toews said. “But I’m not too worried about going head-to-head with him. I’m just trying to go out there and play a team game.”

Prior to addressing the media, Team Canada took to the Agrodome ice for a brief hour-long skate, a practice that focused on special teams and breakouts.

A power play unit featuring forwards Steve Downie, Dustin Boyd and David Bolland with defencemen Kris Russell and Cam Barker worked on quick puck movement and creating traffic in front of the net.

Each time a shot came through from the point, two Canadian forwards were planted firmly atop goaltender Justin Pogge’s crease.

At the other end of the rink, the remainder of Team Canada’s line-up peppered backup netminder Devan Dubnyk with shots, while fine-tuning breakouts and first passes out of the defensive zone.

Though the drills were conducted at a high pace, the players appeared loose, with loud, raucous celebrations echoing throughout the Agrodome after goals were scored.

Team Canada squares off against the USA at 16:00 on December 31 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada

2014 WU18C: CAN 2 - SVK 1
Apr 20, 2014
Brendan Perlini’s two goals led Canada to a victory over the Slovaks.
2014 Esso Cup: WEY 2 - SUD 1
Apr 20, 2014
Jenica Whitrow scoredwith less than two minutes to play to winit for Weyburn.
2014 Esso Cup: EDM 1 - FRA 0
Apr 20, 2014
Jessica Healey scoresthe game’s only goal as the Thunder winsits opener.
2014 WU18C: CAN 5 - GER 2
Apr 19, 2014
Ryan Gropp scored with 5:36 to go to help Canada to its second win.
2014 WU18C: CAN 3 - SWE 1
Apr 17, 2014
Virtanen scored twice to lead Canada to the tournament-opening win.
2014 WWU18C: CAN 5 – USA 1
Mar 30, 2014
U18 women win gold.
2014 WWU18C: CAN 1 – RUS 0 (OT)
Mar 29, 2014
Canada edges Russia in overtime.
2014 WWU18C: CAN 5 – CZE 0
Mar 26, 2014
Canadians shut out Czechs.
2014 WWU18C: CAN 7 – FIN 0
Mar 24, 2014
U18 women blank Finland.
2014 WWU18C: CAN 7 – JPN 1
Mar 23, 2014
Canada starts Worlds with win
2014 PARA: CAN 3 – NOR 0 (Bronze)
Mar 15, 2014
Billy Bridges scored a pair of goals to lead Canada to a Paralympic bronze.
2010 OLYW: Flag Raising
Feb 10, 2010
Canada's National Women's Team taking part in the Flag Raising ceremony at the Olympic Village in Vancouver, B.C.
Photo Credit: