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Crosby in Triple Gold Club with World Championship

by Michael Langr

PRAGUE -- Mission accomplished.

Sidney Crosby will head home with a gold medal from Canada's undefeated run at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, meaning he joined the Triple Gold Club for players who have won the Stanley Cup and gold at the Olympics and Worlds.

The Pittsburgh Penguins center is the 26th member of the Triple Gold Club, the ninth from Canada. He is the first member of the exclusive club to captain all three championship teams: the Penguins in 2009, Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014 and at the 2015 Worlds at Prague's O2 Arena.

"That's what we all came for, we came here to win, and obviously you've been part of different things like this, Olympics, World Juniors and all that stuff," Crosby said after winning the gold-medal game 6-1 against Russia on Sunday. "Different experiences and being able to accomplish this any time of the year, play for Team Canada, it's pretty special.

"I talked to [Jason Spezza] a lot, I know he was in two finals and lost to Russia (in 2008 and 2009). To be able to kind of talk with a guy who's been through that, you try to make the most of your opportunities, and that's what we were trying to do."

Crosby certainly made the most of his opportunities in the championship game with a goal and an assist. He had four goals and seven assists in nine games to finish seventh in points at the tournament despite skipping the last game of the preliminary-round against Austria, a 10-1 Canada win.

"I'm happy about being able to win this tournament," Crosby said. "I really thought about that as much as coming here, being able to accomplish what we were here for. A lot of new guys and new group together, not a lot of time to prepare, but we showed a lot. We got better as the tournament went on and saved the best for the last game."

Canada outshot Russia 37-12 in the gold-medal game and finished the tournament with dominance that hasn't been seen at the Worlds probably since the Soviets in the 1970s and '80s. Canada scored 66 goals in 10 games, and the one goal it allowed in three elimination games came with a 6-0 lead in the third period against Russia.

"You expect to come here and expect tight games," Crosby said. "Look at the semifinal (against the Czech Republic), 2-0, could have gone either way. Today, we played a great game, buried our chances, and our depth really showed. We had a lot of forwards who could contribute, but our defense was able to add to the offense, and our goaltending was really solid just all the way through. A pretty great team effort."

Crosby feels the reasons for Canada's success were evident in a preliminary-round game against Sweden, when the Canadians fell behind 3-0 before rallying for a 6-4 victory.

"I thought our goal was to stay the same no matter what the score or what the team. We really pushed each other to get better with each game, and some were closer than others," he said. "When you look back to that Sweden game, we had a 3-0 deficit, and the way we showed a lot of character, that was a big building block for our team. When we got through that, I thought our confidence was really big, and we felt like no matter what the team or the challenge, that we could overcome that."

Crosby cherishes the World Championship gold because, unlike some European cores who regularly play together in smaller tournaments, the Canadians have to both adjust from the NHL style to the international game and find chemistry.

"It's a different challenge," he said. "You come together pretty quickly. There is no summer camp like you would have at the Olympics and have a feeling or an idea who are you going to play with and how are you going to play. The coaching staff and everything is thrown together fairly quick, but I think that's the unique thing about these events, is how close the guys get in a short period of time and how everyone jells and that's whatever it takes to win. That's pretty special and equally it's tough. And we found a way to do it and win."

After winning Olympic gold twice, the World U-20 Championship and the 2015 World Championship, there's not much left for Crosby to accomplish on the international scene.

But there is one major tournament Crosby hasn't had a chance to win, and that's because he was 17 when the World Cup of Hockey was last played; it returns in 2016.

"We are enjoying this one before we get to that one, it's still a long ways away," Crosby said. "But any time you put on this jersey, there's a lot of expectations and a lot of pride, so you're always happy when you can win it."

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