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Heart, determination factors in Canada going undefeated against Russians

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER (CP) - Going undefeated in the junior hockey Super Series with Russia was a matter of heart and honour.

"It was just our heart," Stefan Legein said Sunday after Canada watched the Russians lose their composure and surrender five power-play goals in a 6-1 victory. The result left the Canadians with a 7-0-1 record in the series staged to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series with the then Soviet Union. Canada won the final three games in Moscow to capture that series 4-3 with one tie.

"We just wanted to win the series so bad and honour the '72 guys that won," said Legein, who plays for Mississauga of the OHL and is a 2007 draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"That's how we played out there. We weren't going to let them beat us in any aspect. We were down a couple of times (2-0 in both the first game and in a 4-4 tie Friday in Red Deer) so I think it was just our heart that made the difference."

The Russians began their parade to the penalty box in the second period and Karl Alzner, Brandon Sutter and Zach Boychuk counted power-play goals that provided a 3-0 cushion for the final 20 minutes.

Alzner, who plays for the WHL Calgary Hitmen and was the fifth overall choice of the Washington Capitals in the 2007 entry draft, wired a hard shot from the point at 3:43 of the period.

Sutter, who was screening in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on the first goal, was a key to the others.

He was high-sticked by Pavel Doronin who received a double minor and Canada counted twice within one minute 55 seconds.

Sutter, who plays for the WHL Red Deer Rebels and was a first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes last June, scored from a scramble during a two-man advantage.

Boychuk, a WHL Lethbridge Hurricane who's eligible for the 2008 draft, counted his fourth goal of the series.

Kyle Turris, who played last season for the Tier 2 junior Burnaby Express of the BCJHL but was drafted third overall in June by the Phoenix Coyotes, pulled the trigger on two more power play goals in the third period. He led Canadian scorers with seven.

Colton Gillies, drafted in 2007 out of the WHL Saskatoon Blades by the Minnesota Wild, completed the attack with his second goal of the series.

Evgeny Dadonov ruined the shutout bid of goalie Leland Irving with 2:40 remaining as the Russians were outshot 45-26.

"It's been 21 days and we wanted to finish it off the right way," said coach Brent Sutter, who is unbeaten in 20 straight games - 19 of them wins - behind the Canadian bench in international junior play.

"We just wanted to play a Canadian type game. I thought our energy level was the best it's been in the four games we've played in Canada.

"They accomplished something that's pretty incredible. To go 7-0-1 is pretty remarkable when you consider everything and the travel involved."

Brent Sutter, who will leave his Red Deer Rebels to coach the New Jersey Devils this season, said confidence that began to build in Game 1 was the key to the series.

"As the series went on the confidence level of our opposition went down," he said. "To win all four in their homeland I think says something in itself. We got down 2-0 in that first game but our resiliency and our character ... really took over."

Although the tie in Red Deer ended the possibility of the 18,630 fans brandishing brooms at GM Place, Alzner said the first game in Russia raised the possibility of a sweep.

"I guess we weren't really sure until we played that first game how good we actually could be," Alzner said.

"Maybe in a few games they shut her down after a couple of goals but there were a few times when they battled us hard. If they played a full game like that it would be much closer."

The final game was chippy and resulted in punches being thrown in the third period. No fighting majors were assessed by the Canadian referees but the Russians paid dearly for their other penalties.

"In a few other games they've (penalties) been a big factor but we try to stay on the refs' good sides and just use your speed and not be too chippy," Alzner said.

Sam Gagner, the series MVP who assisted on the first two goals and scored six himself in the first seven games, said he expected the final game to be a little testy.

"They're proud of their country as well and they don't want to be embarrassed. You knew there was going to be a lot of passion and it definitely showed."

Captain Milan Lucic, drafted this year by Boston out of the Memorial Cup champion Vancouver Giants, said the Canadians thought at first that the series might come down to the final game just like in 1972 when Paul Henderson scored the series winner at 19:26 of the third period.

"But this (result) just shows the preparation, determination and heart we had coming into this tournament and showing how much we wanted to win."

NOTES: - The last time the Russian junior team played at GM Place it was beaten 5-0 by Canada in the title game of the2006 world junior championship ... five Team Canada members are from the Vancouver area - Alzner, Gillies, Zach Hamill, Lucic and Turris ... all but Gillies were on the ice for the opening face-off.

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