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Canada knows a full 60 necessary to capture gold

by Mike G. Morreale /
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In order to win its sixth gold medal in seven years, the Canadian National Junior Team will have to do what Finland and Sweden couldn't -- play a full 60 minutes against Russia.
Based on what everyone witnessed on Monday in a dominating performance against the United States in the semifinal round of the World Junior Championship, that shouldn't be a problem.
Canada and Russia will square off in the gold medal game on Wednesday (7:30 p.m .ET, NHLN-US) at HSBC Arena for the seventh time since 1996. Canada, which is 15-14 with two ties in the all-time WJC series, has won the last three gold medal meetings (2005, '06 and '07) and four straight overall including the 2009 semifinal-round, 6-5 shootout win in Ottawa.
The Canadian players are well aware of Russia's recent comeback efforts.
Against Finland in the quarterfinal round, Yevgeni Kuznetsov and Maxim Kitsyn each had a goal and an assist in the final four minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime before Kuznetsov sealed the deal 6:44 into the extra session for a 4-3 victory. In the semifinal against Sweden, Sergei Kalinin struck with 1:27 remaining in the third to tie the game before Russia would eventually win in a shootout.
"We know they have the potential to (come back)," defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. "We'll have to shut them down defensively. They're a very offensive-minded team and have a lot of skilled players, but to know they have the comeback spirit in them is important. We have to pay attention to that. We have to play an even more solid 60-minute game."
Canada has already earned a 6-3 victory over Russia on the opening-day of preliminary-round action, receiving scores from six different players. Olivier Roy earned the victory in goal for Canada in that contest but Mark Visentin, who has won both playoff-round games for Canada, will get the nod this time around. Visentin is 3-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .961 save percentage.
"The comebacks they've made are impressive but we're not really focused on how they've been doing," Visentin said. "Those things are out of our control. They've got some firepower but we'll be ready for it."
Canada forward Marcus Foligno agreed.
"We had (Tuesday) off so we recharged the batteries," he said. "It's the gold medal game. You have to leave everything out there, so I don't see any reason why we shouldn't put in the same effort against the Russians as we did against the Americans."
Canada coach Dave Cameron said his message to his players on Tuesday morning was simple.
"Stay humble, don't let your foot off the pedal and don't underestimate the opposition," he said.
As it stands, the gold medal game will feature the two highest-scoring teams in the tournament. Canada is first with 36 goals in six games (14.46 shooting percentage) and Russia second with 27 goals in six contests (12.39 percent).
As such, Cameron certainly doesn't anticipate any sort of trap from either side. Still, you never know.
"We're not sure they're going to trap -- they haven't trapped us," Cameron said. "We're going to prepare like they're going to come at us. Traps work only when you try to skate the puck through it and, if they decide to trap, we won't do that."
Russia coach Valeri Bragin will likely have Dmitri Shikin between the pipes. Shikin is 3-1-0 with a 2.47 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who has done a marvelous job as captain for Canada, expects Russia to be playing their best.
"They're very offensive, very fast," Ellis said. "I think if we can play with the puck more than they can, we should be OK. But they're so fast, so strong, it'll be an interesting gold medal game.
"We always have the target on our back … I think it just goes with being a Canadian," he continued. "They're a good hockey team and we'll have to play strong. They're going to have to bring their 'A' game but we'll approach it like any other game."
"We'll have to shut them down defensively. They're a very offensive-minded team and have a lot of skilled players, but to know they have the comeback spirit in them is important. We have to pay attention to that. We have to play an even more solid 60-minute game." -- Erik Gudbranson on facing Russia
Canada's Zack Kassian believes the team has actually taken on the persona of its head coach.
"He's a great coach," Kassian said of Cameron. "My coach in Windsor (Bob Jones) knows him personally and he had nothing but good things to say about him. After spending three or so weeks with him, you really get to know him. He's a great guy, good coach and very determined and focused on game days."

Gudbranson was asked if Team Canada would be able to completely shut down offensive threats Vladimir Tarasenko (3 goals, 9 points), Kuznetsov (4 goals, 8 points), Dmitri Orlov (8 assists, 9 points) and Kitsyn (4 goals, 8 points).
"I think what it comes down to is everybody in the room making sure they're playing at the top of their game," Gudbranson said. "We know what game plan can beat them. We've already done it, but we just have to bear down and do the little things right as a team."
"We know that Tarasenko is a pretty lethal weapon on their team and their goalie is having a good run, too," Foligno said. "They have other guys who can skate and put the puck in the net. We just have to make sure they don't get too many opportunities off the rush."
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