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Canada can't flip script on Russia

by Aaron Vickers
CALGARY -- It read like the perfect script.

After being down 6-1 with a little over 11 minutes remaining in the game, Dougie Hamilton scored. Then captain Jaden Schwartz. Brendan Gallagher followed. Brandon Gormley, too.
Staring at a five-goal deficit, four tallies in a span of 4:57 had brought Canada to within one of tying the Russians with a spot in the gold-medal game against Sweden at the World Juniors on the line.

After Russia scored five consecutive goals in the third period to snatch gold from Canada a year ago in Buffalo, the tables were teetering.

But they didn't turn.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin pulled starter Andrei Vasilevski and inserted Andrei Makarov into the net, who made seven clutch saves in just over five minutes of action to slam the door on Canada's hopes with a 6-5 victory.

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"It's tough when you come back into the room and you're down 6-1," Gormley said. "I thought the boys did a great job of staying positive and battling back. We definitely looked back on last year and that team had a three-goal lead and they came clawing back so that's what we tried to do. When you give up six goals, it's hard to come back."

Though he wasn't Wednesday's starter, Mark Visentin ended up back between the pipes when Yaroslav Kosov crashed into him after Yevgeni Kuznetsov's hat-trick goal.

Visentin, the goalie on record for Canada's loss to Russia a year ago, could feel the team in front of him begin to ride the wave of momentum.

"As we started taking it, I don't even think they entered our zone once in the third period," he said. "It shows how good we played. That's the type of hockey we need to play for three periods if we want to win. To see us rally like that is incredible."

But in the end, it was disappointment for Canada.

For Brett Connolly, it stung twice as bad. As a returning player, Connolly was hit hard by both Russian defeats.

"Yeah, it's … I don't know how to explain it," Connolly said. "It (stinks)."

And, in the end, it never should have got to a five-goal spread, according to starting goalie Scott Wedgewood.

"Any of those I feel I could've had … a couple deflections and then a 2-on-0," Wedgewood said. "The job as a goalie is to stop the puck. It doesn't matter what happens, how it goes in, deflection or not, breakaway or not. Unfortunately, I didn't get my job done today."

The loss shouldn't fall on Canada's starter, who could do little on three deflected goals and a 2-on-0 opportunity featuring the explosive Nail Yakupov and Yevgeni Kuznetsov.
"We weren't happy obviously when it was 6-1," Schwartz said. "We had too many defensive breakdowns and were undisciplined at times, but we battled back hard."

But it wasn't enough for Canada, which will quickly have to shake off the heartbreaking loss and turn its attention to Finland for the bronze medal game, scheduled to take place Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET.
"It's not what we came here for," Wedgewood said. "We're obviously going to pick our heads back up and play the bronze game like we're supposed to and try to come out and win that game. Guys are upset and it's not what we wanted, but it's a learning experience for all of us. You've got to play a full 60 minutes. The cliché is said, but proven there, it's true."
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