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Revenge-minded Canada won gold at 2005 WJC in U.S.

by Mike G. Morreale /
Patrice Bergeron still remembers entering the locker room for Team Canada just before the gold-medal game against Russia at the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship -- and not hearing a single noise.

"You could sense winning that gold medal was the main goal," Bergeron said. "No one cared about anything else."

And that's the way it's supposed to be if you're a Canadian hockey player. There are dreams not only of reaching the NHL someday, but also having an opportunity to represent your country for a shot at the gold medal in World Juniors play.

For Team Canada, the 2005 WJC was all about redemption.

The fact the tournament was being held on U.S. soil in Grand Forks, N.D., made it all the more enticing. One year earlier, Team USA defeated the Canada, 4-3, for the gold medal in Helsinki, Finland.

It was the perfect opportunity for Canada to snap out of its seven-year gold-medal drought.

"There were 12 players from the 2004 team returning to the 2005 team, and they wanted it," Bergeron said.

"We pretty much had the same team (in 2005) as the year before so it was good because everyone kind of knew what was at stake and knew what happened and we had that memory (of 2004) in the back of our heads. We really didn't need any more extra motivation."
-- Jeff Carter

The memories of the 2004 loss were fresh in the minds of those returning players -- forwards Jeff Carter, Jeremy Colliton, Sidney Crosby, Nigel Dawes, Stephen Dixon, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards and Anthony Stewart, and defensemen Shawn Belle, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf and Brent Seabrook.

To a man, there were memories of taking a 3-1 lead into the third period in the '04 final only to allow the U.S. to square the games on goals by Ryan Kesler and Patrick O'Sullivan. The game-winner came with a little less than five minutes remaining.

Canada goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a successful poke check to stop a breakaway by O'Sullivan, but the puck caromed off Coburn and into the net. It marked a third-straight silver medal for Canada, which seemingly was snake-bitten in the gold-medal game. With the loss, Canada had taken leads in each of the previous three WJC title games -- 3-1 against Russia in 2002, 2-1 against Russia in 2003, 3-1 against the USA in 2004 -- only to lose in the end.

"That tournament brings out a lot of emotion," Coburn told "Obviously every year you have new players and we had a strong group, and anytime you go into a tournament like that, especially playing for Canada, the expectation is to win. I think everyone on the team expected to win -- anything short would have been a disappointment knowing how strong a team we had. There was a belief that we were the best team in the tournament."

They were.

Canada outscored its opposition 41-7. It gave up just three even-strength goals in six games while allowing just 12 shots per game. The club overwhelmed Russia in the gold-medal game, 6-1, before a sellout crowd of 11,862 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Bergeron was named the tournament MVP after finishing as the leading scorer with 5 goals and 13 points. Carter and Phaneuf were also named to the Tournament All-Star team.

Just like that, their mission was accomplished, and that triumph began a string of five-straight gold medals for the Canada.

"We pretty much had the same team as the year before so it was good because everyone kind of knew what was at stake and knew what happened and we had that memory in the back of our heads," Carter told "We really didn't need any more extra motivation."

It's a motivation one would expect from this year's Team Canada group, which could include as many as four returnees from last year's silver medal-winning group. Similar to the team that began the 2005 tournament, this year's group is coming off a one-goal loss to the U.S. in 2010 and the tournament is being held on U.S. soil -- in Buffalo and Niagara, N.Y.

"Obviously, you want to win every year, but if you can beat the Americans in the States, it adds a little extra, so I'm sure it's in the back of their mind," Carter said. "There are so many guys who can play on that Canadian team. You can put together two or three teams from Canada and they'd all be competitive, so it's definitely an honor to represent your country there. And the fact it's around Christmas time makes it a lot of fun."

For Coburn, winning the gold in '05 certainly took some of the sting out of the silver-medal finish one year earlier.

"I remember when I was 10 years old at Christmas time watching this tournament religiously, and even when it was overseas, getting up early in the morning to watch some of the games no matter who was playing," Coburn said. "The best advice I can give our Canadian players is to just enjoy it because it's not something you get to do very often. I think it's a real honor to represent your country at that age."

Bergeron, who played on a line with Crosby in the 2005 WJC, has won gold medals for Team Canada at the '04 World Championships, '05 WJC and '10 Winter Olympics. He was the first Canadian player to win a men's gold medal before winning at the junior level.

"I learned a lot in that two-week span with guys like Richie (Mike Richards) and Cartsy (Jeff Carter)," Bergeron said. "I learned how to rise up to the occasion. In those tournaments, you have to make sure you're ready for every game since every game is important. You dealt with pressure, and in the end we came away with a lot of great memories."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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