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Patrice Bergeron Settled in Sochi, Looking Forward to Challenge of Defending Gold with Team Canada

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron knows it will be difficult to top winning the gold medal he took home from his first Olympics with Team Canada in Vancouver in 2010.

But he and his Canadian teammates have their sights set on just that.

"Obviously Vancouver was a great experience, was amazing to be in your home country and representing your country and be able to win gold," he said before heading to Sochi, Russia.

"So hopefully we're able to do that again, but we have a great challenge in front of us, and we're looking forward to it."

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Patrice may have left his Black & Gold back in Boston for the next two weeks, as did his fellow Bruins Olympians, but the passion he has for the game never changes, whether he's in his usual Spoked-B or the red and white of Team Canada.

On Wednesday, I caught up with the Bruin after he took in the hard-fought spectacle of the Canada-USA women's hockey preliminary matchup, in which the Canadians defeated Team USA, 3-2. He's been in Sochi since Monday, settling in and getting ready for game action.

Below are his thoughts on the experience so far…

Heading into Canada's first game against Norway on Thursday, February 13 (12:00 p.m. ET, live on USA Network), the usual centerman's role was likely to be on the right wing, alongside John Tavares at center and Jamie Benn on the left.

"I think so far it's more of a defensive [role], penalty kill, and I'm playing the wing right now, so we'll see what happens, and obviously I'm willing to do whatever that they want me to do. They obviously want me to play my game, and once I'm called for the time to go on the ice, it's time to do the job and play to my fullest."

The nine-hour time difference seems pretty difficult to get past in a day or two, but Patrice stressed that it was actually easier than he thought it would be - with a little help from Team Canada's staff.

"Definitely a big time difference, so the adjustment took us a few days, but it wasn't too bad. We talked to a few sleep specialists and doctors and they kind of told us when to go to sleep, and what to do in order to help with the jet lag, and seriously, it's been good, it helped a lot and we're just trying to focus now on the upcoming games."

Patrice experienced the Olympic Village in Vancouver in 2010, so he had an idea of what to expect when heading to Sochi, and he's been fortunate to run into a few of his Bruins' teammates there as well.

"It's great, it's kind of similar to how it was in Vancouver, where all of the athletes stay together in the Village, and they've got the meal set up where all of the athletes are going to eat there, so you have a chance to meet other fellow athletes from your country, or even different countries. I've seen Tuukka at the meal hall, and also Zee, I saw him there, so it's a nice setup and also, the buildings and the venues are really, really nice so they've done a good job with that."

So, is Big Zee really the center of attention there?

"Oh, not too bad," Patrice laughed. "He is popular, obviously, but when I saw him, I had the chance to actually talk to him one-on-one and no one seemed to really bother him, and he seems to be enjoying his time as well."

Without family making the trek over, Patrice has had plenty of time on his own to concentrate on the practice and games coming up, whether it was taking in the women's USA-Canada game before his own Olympics started up, or being in the Village, where's he's rooming with fellow Vancouver 2010 teammate Duncan Keith.

Along with the rest of the Team Canada roster, Patrice said he and his team have been finding chemistry together - an important element in the Olympics' "one and done" type of tournament, where every game holds considerable weight.

"You're here, and you don't have that much time to gel as a team. But it's the team that's going to do that the quickest, that has the best chance," he said.

Team Canada Olympic hopefuls had gathered for a roughly 45-player camp last August in Calgary that featured plenty of meetings, activities and stressed the importance of the team concept.

"Obviously, by doing that camp, it helps us, and hopefully we can carry that onto the ice."

So, no secret team bonding trips to the mountains surrounding Sochi are necessary?

Patrice just laughed.

And then planned to get a good night's sleep, with his first game of the 2014 Olympics (and a medal to chase) on the agenda.

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