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Tanguay's memories from the WJC

by Kristi Hennessy / Calgary Flames

Flames forward, Alex Tanguay, was a member of Team Canada during the 1997-98 World Junior Championships held in Helsinki, Finland.

He recorded two goals and an assist in seven games. After winning several gold medals in a row, Team Canada finally walked away without a medal when they lost in the quarter finals to Russia and Team Finland marched their way to capture the gold medal in their home country of Finland.

Despite the tough loss, Tanguay will always remember his experience at the World Junior Championships and feels very fortunate that he was able to have a dream come true.

"It was a lot of fun," said Tanguay. "Canada had one four or five in a row before. We got there and the pressure was on. We thought we had a pretty good team.

"There is such a fine line between winning and losing. We lost in the quarter-finals to Russia 2-1 with seven seconds left in overtime and from there it was like we lost everything. We went on to lose a couple more games which really didn't mean anything.

"We were there for only one reason, to win the gold. At the time and when we lost it was difficult to swallow.

"But it was a great experience, you play against the best in the world and it's such a great atmosphere and an intense atmosphere. It's an experience as a kid that you really want to have."

Playing for Team Canada in Helsinki, Finland is a little different than playing on home soil in Canada. Although Europe is full of great hockey fans, they are not the same as Canadian fans. Tanguay noted that even though they were in Finland, he could still hear and see the section of red where the Canadian fans would cheer on Team Canada and wave their Canadian flags.

"It was really nice, there were lots of fans there for us," said Tanguay. "Obviously the tournament doesn't get as much attention as it does in Canada. The next year I was hurt and it was in Winnipeg. I wish I could have experienced it on Canadian soil but Helsinki was a great experience. Unfortunately we didn't win as much as we'd liked to but sometimes that's what happens."

The window for a player to play in with WJC is usually small. And making Team Canada is no easy task. Tanguay said it is important to be at the top of your game at the exact right moment to have a chance.

"I think it's all about timing," Tanguay believes. "You need to have a good performance at good times. The first year that I got on, I wasn't invited originally. I think Boyd Devereaux was kept by his NHL team so they gave me the call the night before and I was able to get to camp and make the best of it. I got on and made the team.

"Then the second year I had an injury and had to miss it. As kid you dream about it, you watch it on TV, you want to have that experience. You're hoping and your dreaming it's going to happen. I guess I was one of the fortunate ones that got the call and it was certainly a lot of fun."

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