|Brad Marchand of Canada celebrates after scoring a winning goal against Finland in their IIHF World U20 Ice Hockey Championships quarter-final match in Pardubice, some 130 kilometers (about 85 miles) east of Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. Canada won the match 4-2 and advanced to semi-final match. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek ) |
A few miles to the south, in Buffalo, New York, the USA and Canada will face each other tonight in the semi-finals of the International Ice Hockey Federation World U20 Championship.
The North American rivalry has sparked some friendly competition among a few members of the Black & Gold.
“Well I got my friend Blake Wheeler here, we have a little side bet going,” said B’s left winger Milan Lucic
. “Unfortunately we’re playing so we can’t watch the game but we’re going to keep a close eye on it.”
On the line between the Bruins two forwards: friendship.
“So a lot is definitely on the line,” said a sarcastic Lucic.
The United States are defending champions, and have eight returning players from last year’s gold-medal squad.
“Well, you know, it always seems like, especially in the World Juniors, it’s always Canada’s tournament, so to see them win last year was pretty fun to watch and to have another shot this year is also fun to watch,” Wheeler said.
Both Wheeler and Bruins rookie forward Brad Marchand
have competed in the IIHF U20 World Championship.
“You know Canada, USA it’s always been a huge rivalry, even yesterday during the game you could hear all the fans screaming ‘We want USA’,” Marchand said of the Canada vs. Switzerland game on television. “It’s pretty special and you know, I know it’s going to be a huge game and everyone will be watching.”
Wheeler played for USA in the 2006 games and took home a bronze medal.
“I know my year we played on Vancouver you know, kind of being on enemy territory,” said Wheeler.
“It was most intense game I ever played before, just the atmosphere and the crowd the hatred between the two teams.”
Marchand had a goal and an assist in Canada’s gold-medal win over Sweden in 2008, after defeating USA in the semi-finals.
“Celebrating the gold and being able to hold it and show it off, you know they showed that game where we beat (USA) in the semi-finals, it was such a great game and it was so nerve-wracking but you know when we won it was the most amazing feeling,” Marchand said. ---Hannah Becker