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Bergy calls Olympic tourney "Amazing Hockey"

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bergeron -- On Thursday afternoon, Patrice Bergeron took five minutes to catch up about his team's trip to the Olympic Hockey Tournament semifinals.

"I am pretty happy about [Wednesday] night's game," was the understatement by Bergeron about Canada's 7-3 pasting of Russia. "It was amazing and you could feel it in that building.

"The atmosphere was just amazing. The fans were great."

Bergeron said that Canada's home team felt that they had not given themselves a fair shake prior to the team's game with Marco Sturm's German squad.

"We needed to step up and we knew it was a big game. We kept getting better each and every game and against Germany we played a great game, but we played even better [against Russia]," he said. "And that's what we need to do in the tournament...keep improving until the end."

Bergeron now understands what all the hooplay was about as the club was picked for the tournament and explained that the pressure to perform is hard to explain whithout having the experience.

"Yah, I guess it's easier to understand, now," said the B's assistant captain. "Before the tournament, people were asking us about that, and you know, I guess we knew part of it, but it's not even close."

Maybe pressure is the wrong word. It sounded like what Bergeron was explaining would be better called responsibility.

"The whole country is behind us, you know," he said. "In the stands and in the city. You can feel it.

"And once you're here you realize how special it is for everyone and what it means for Canada.

"But we just need to take the positives out of it, leave everything out the door and just concentrate on ourselves," he said.

But concentrating over the sustained period of the Olympic tourney, particularly during the one-and-done stage is a feat of its own.

"Yah, for sure. It's pretty amazing, you know?" said Bergeron. "The level of the intensity during the NHL regular season is so high, that you think that's the highest it's going to get.

"And then you are in a tournament like this and you feel like the intensity, the emotion and everything else take it to another level. Another notch. And that's just amazing. It's great to see and so far it's been some great games.

"It's amazing hockey."

But that amazing hockey only happens if the participants keep their eyes on the golden prize.

"I think you've got to stay into it," said Bergeron when asked about mental downtime. "Finish up and stay ready. And make are ready for tomorrow's game. You know what I mean.

"So, I think it's about making sure you relax, but you have to stay focused at the same time."

Bergeron's family has been a big part of his experience and have provided a needed respite.

"I think that so far it's been good for me," said Bergeron of his experience in Vancouver. "I've been able to spend some time with my family and relax and [divert] my mind. Then you recharge your batteries, I guess, and have some time to talk to them and not have anyone around us, so it's been good for that.

"But at the same time you have to stay focused. That's why I am still staying at the village and staying around the atmosphere just to stay into the tournament."

Anyone has covered Bergeron would not be surprised that he finds solace in the semi-solitude of the Olympic Village -- the living facilities reserved for the competitors.

"It's amazing, you know? So far it's been a great experience with the village and really something that I never thought that it was going to be that great," said Bergeron. "You're always around some athletes and then you see them on TV and you [say to yourself] 'Hey, I've been hanging out with them at the lounge. Hey was there and he seemed like a great guy.' And now he's winning gold for us and things like that. It's great.

"I am learning from talking to some other athletes about preparation...and what they do, just to see if it is different than us. But it's a lot of fun and I am really enjoying having time to spend with all of the athletes."

Bergeron, who shoulders loads of responsibilties for the Bruins, has a different role -- perhaps most similar to Team USA's Chris Drury -- that of a defensive specialist for his country's hockey squad.

"I am trying to stay ready anytime they need me to stop on the ice. I need to make sure I stay focused throughout the game," said Bergeron in serious tones. "I am in some stretches where I don't play there, so I have to make sure I get my legs ready and once I do get the call I have to make sure I am up to it.

"I take pride in anything I get to do to help and it is no different there."

Bergeron was honest when asked about his playing time, but, like Tim Thomas, made it clear that he was happy to be a part of Team Canada and play whatever role they see fit to give him.

"Obviously as a player you want and for your team to win. And obviously you want to make a difference out there," he said. "The more you can play the [better] it is.

"But you know, it is what it is, it's fine with me. I am just trying to make sure and stay focused and do the job when I go out there."

And Friday, versus Slovakia, that job just got a little bigger -- and taller.

"[Laughs] It's going to be fun playing Zee," said Begeron of the 6'9 Slovakian and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno chara. "He battles so hard and is always up for any challenge.

"Obviously we are all aware of his shot and you never want to be in front of it, but now, tomorrow, I am going to have to be in front of it and I am going to have to try and block it."

And that, in itself, is an Olympian task.
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