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Donovan rolled perfect seven at WJC

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
What’s even better than winning a world junior hockey championship?

Doing it in historic fashion and on home soil, to boot.

Gold was twice as nice for Shean Donovan and his Canadian teammates at the 1995 WJC in Alberta. The boys in the red maple leaf were perfect for the first time at that tournament, which was officially based in Red Deer but which also saw Team Canada play some of its biggest games before huge, raucous crowds at the Saddledome in Calgary.

The tournament was still played under the round-robin format back then, meaning the team on top of the standings at the end of the eight-team tournament was awarded the gold. Canada had never tasted victory in all seven games until Donovan and Co. got the job done in the 1995 event.

“Winning is the big thing,” the Ottawa Senators forward said in recalling his favourite moment of the tournament. “It used to be you played seven games – there were no playoffs back then – and we were the first Canadian team to win all seven (games). So we won and we got to party twice.

“We clinched the gold before we were done and then (beating Sweden 4-3) in our seventh game, we were the first team to win (them all).”

Perhaps the biggest drama for Donovan was making that team. The then-Ottawa 67’s forward was cut the previous year from a team that went on to win the 1994 WJC in the Czech Republic – Canada’s second straight gold in what would eventually become a run of five consecutive titles.

“I was no shoo-in to make the team,” Donovan said in recalling the tension of the final Canadian selection camp for the Red Deer tourney. “I went to camp and had to work hard just to get a spot. I was so nervous.

“I had gone the year before and it was the 10 o’clock call … if you could get past there (you made the team). It was 10:15 and me and Marty Murray were in the room and the phone rang. It was for me and I had to go up and they told me I’d been cut. The next year, the phone didn’t ring but I was as nervous as could be, very nervous. It was a great feeling (to know I’d made it).”

The feeling didn’t last too long. Soon enough, Team Canada knew it had a title to defend in front of a home audience. And with the National Hockey League shut down by a work stoppage, the eyes and expectations of a nation were perhaps more intense than ever.

“It was the biggest thing I had been a part of as far as hockey goes,” said Donovan. “The thing is, there’s a lot of pressure to win and there was the (NHL) lockout was that year. You’re excited but at the same time, you know you’ve got to get down to business.

“Brunch is the next thing after you know you’ve made the team. You’re excited and you call your parents and that’s a great call. Everybody’s kind of giggly and excited at brunch and after that you’ve got practice and you get down to business.”

Soon enough, the WJC had ended and another group of Canadians got to wear gold medals around their necks and sing a song – O Canada – they all knew so very well.

Donovan admits to one regret about it all.

“It kind of goes by in a blur and you don’t get to enjoy it as much as you should,” he said. “I wish I could go back and enjoy it (more).”

Senators update: Volchenkov won't face Flames

Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (upper body) and Filip Kuba (groin) will both be out of the lineup when the Senators face off against the Flames later tonight in Calgary (10 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). There had been some hope Volchenkov would be ready to go but head coach Craig Hartsburg said his rugged blueliner is "still too sore."

"We're hoping that sometime on this trip, he'll be able to play, but not tonight," he said after the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today.

Hartsburg will stick with Alex Auld (9-9-4) in net against the Flames as the Senators try to end a 10-game winless skid on the road, where the Senators will play their next seven games. Included are upcoming tests Sunday in Vancouver and Tuesday in Edmonton.

"We know what’s at stake here. These are big games away from home," said forward Dany Heatley, whom Hartsburg has called one of the team's best performers in recent games. "Starting tonight, we need points. With our position in the standings, we need points any way we can get them. We’ve got to play our best hockey."

The Senators (12-15-5) sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, 10 points shy of a playoff berth, but defenceman Chris Phillips said "we can't be just totally focused on that."

"We’ve got to try to put the record that we have behind us and come out here excited and ready to play. We have to do a lot of things better. It starts with hard work and getting back to basics and we’ll go from there. Just try to look forward, not back, and try to get some points on this trip."

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