EDMONTON, Alta. -- As one of seven returning players from the silver medal-winning Canadian National Junior Team at the World Junior Championship last January, goalie Mark Visentin is high on the priority list of media members covering development camp this week.
But in addition to having the most experience of the four goalies invited to camp, Visentin constantly is reminded of the final 20 minutes of the gold-medal game, when his team gave away a three-goal lead against Russia. To some, it was considered the worst defeat in the illustrious international history of Team Canada.
Trailing 3-0 at the second intermission, Russia stormed back for three unanswered goals against Visentin in the opening 7:29 of the third period to pull even. Riding a wave of momentum that just couldn't be stopped, Russia scored twice more in the closing five minutes of the game en route to a stunning 5-3 victory.
"You have to get rid of that game," Visentin said. "You'll have a lot of highs and a lot of lows and, unfortunately, that was a big-time low for me … definitely the biggest one ever."
"For me, I didn't really think about it too much," he said. "I'm just the kind of guy who likes to get stuff done and whether the media is on your side or not, it's something you have to do … it's part of the game. My thoughts after that loss were just go and get it over with. It was probably the toughest time of my life after that game and it was so hard to swallow. I learned a lot from it, though, and it motivated me to get even better."
Visentin closed the 2010-11 season as the top goalie in the Ontario Hockey League, going 30-9-6 with a 2.52 GAA and four shutouts in 46 games for the Niagara IceDogs.
"You learn through adversity, and he's had his hands full in a short period of time learning to cope with pressure," Canada goalie coach Ron Tugnutt told NHL.com. "But Mark's also got to understand there's also support. There are people supporting him out there. I saw the first game he played after the WJC and he was outstanding -- he was the first star of the game and the best player on the ice."
Following Thursday's scrimmage, Canada coach Don Hay actually singled out Visentin as having an impressive showing. He stopped Barrie's Mark Scheifele on a point-blank attempt from between the circles and later stoned Oshawa's Christian Thomas with his glove off a 2-on-1 breakout.
"This kid has such a tremendous amount of character," Tugnutt said. "To stand up before the media after that gold-medal game, say the right things, you can't help but respect a kid who does that and then goes back and finishes the way he did. It speaks volumes."
Barring injury, Visentin is almost certain to be one of the two goalies chosen for Canada's team for the 2012 World Junior Championship, to be held in Edmonton and Calgary from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
"It's a whole new year and a whole new team, and obviously we don't dwell on the past," said Visentin said. "Me and a couple of the other guys on the team have been there but we just use it to our advantage and motivate ourselves to get better in the summer and the offseason. I came to Canadian camp with an open mind and am just preparing the best I can."
Visentin is one of two goalies at camp drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010. Visentin was taken in the opening round (No. 27), and his partner for Team Red, Louis Domingue, was chosen in the fifth round (No. 138). Also competing for roster spots and playing for Team White are Oilers prospect Tyler Bunz (fifth round, 2010) and Devils hopeful Scott Wedgewood (third round, 2010).
"Everyone has to prove themselves when you come in and everybody here is a top-notch player in Canada," Visentin said. "It's a great honor to be here with those players and it's a ton of fun. At the same time, it all comes down to performance. You have to bear down and do your best."
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