Хроника Хоккея


Hockey final a tale of two players
06.01.2004. Canadian Press. Ken Campbell.

HELSINKI—Two players from opposite ends of the spectrum in life and hockey became forever linked yesterday by one of the most bizarre goals ever scored at the world junior championship — a heart-breaker for Canadians that handed the United States a 4-3 victory in the final.

Marc-Andr? Fleury, who came into the tournament as the undisputed best young goalie in the world, a 19-year-old future NHL star with big-league credentials and a bank account to match, was the unexpected goat.

American Patrick O'Sullivan, who got credit for the game-winning goal, was his equally unlikely foil. He began the championship as a second-line centre, months removed from a controversial junior season with the Mississauga IceDogs in which he was sent home for allegedly stealing a hockey stick from a store. Then, just before the National Hockey League draft last June, the story surfaced that O'Sullivan and his mother had suffered years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of Patrick's father.

John O'Sullivan was a journeyman minor leaguer who turned into the worst kind of hockey parent.

The two players' pasts and futures collided yesterday with memorable results.

Heavily favoured Canada had a 3-1 lead after two periods and seemed poised to win the country's first junior gold medal in seven years. But the U.S. tied the game in the third, with O'Sullivan, 18, getting one of the goals.

Then, with just over five minutes to play and with the puck drifting toward Fleury in the Canadian net, O'Sullivan used his blazing speed to get around Canadian defenceman Brent Seabrook. Fleury came out of the net to play the puck and shot it up ice, where it hit teammate Braydon Coburn in the shoulder and went into the net before the goalie could dive back to get it.

Both players came out to meet the media simultaneously after the game, O'Sullivan sporting a huge smile and wearing his gold medal, Fleury with tears in his eyes.

"I could have saved some, but I didn't," said Fleury, who signed a three-year $3.72 million (U.S.) contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in October. "I scored in my own net today, so that doesn't help. Some lucky. First (goal in the third period), hits my shoulder, in the net. Second one, hits my stick, bounces over my head, into the net. Third one, chip it off my `D' (defenceman) and it goes into the net. It's not goals you see often, but if you want to win, you've got to make some stops, too."

And you have to have someone who delivers an enormous performance, and O'Sullivan did just that.

O'Sullivan concedes his heroics were all the more satisfying considering what he has endured. From the three-ring circus that was the IceDogs under former owner and coach Don Cherry to a personal life that included beatings from his father after almost every game, O'Sullivan has survived. Even though he has spent the last month with the U.S. junior team, he still leads the Ontario Hockey League in goals and the scars are beginning to heal.

`I think a lot of people are going to be happy for me and that makes me feel good.'

U.S. player Patrick O'Sullivan

In fact, O'Sullivan's historic performance came two years to the day after he took control of his life and decided he would never talk to his father again.

"I've had some tough times, no doubt about that," O'Sullivan said. "But I think that stuff is in the past and I'm just happy to be playing hockey, and obviously winning this tournament is the highlight of my career so far."

O'Sullivan's father, a native of Toronto, played nine seasons in the minors and met the former Cathie Ann Martin in Winston-Salem, N.C. Patrick was born just as John's hockey career was finishing and as soon as his son took an interest in hockey, John began a zealous pursuit of vicarious glory that was out of control by the time Patrick was in his early teens.

The family briefly moved to Toronto so Patrick could play for the prestigious Toronto Red Wings organization and by the time he was 13, he was playing Junior B hockey in Strathroy.

Everything came to a head two years ago yesterday. The night before, John pulled his son off the IceDogs' bus following a game in Ottawa, with the intention of taking him to his home in Michigan. When Patrick tried to leave the van during a stop in Toronto, John began kicking and punching. When Patrick fought back, John knocked him to the ground.

Patrick filed charges that day and John ended up behind bars for almost a month.

His mother finalized divorce proceedings in April and a Canadian restraining order prohibits John from coming within one kilometre of Patrick.

O'Sullivan was drafted 56th overall by the Minnesota Wild, 55 spots after Fleury. The Wild didn't have a name to sew on his sweater because they had no intention of taking him in the first round and thought he'd be gone by their pick in the second.

"I had kind of disregarded him until we interviewed him in Toronto," said Wild assistant general manager Tom Thompson. "I told him, `Wherever you play this year, I want you to have fun.' He still has a long way to go, but it's getting better."

Now that the tournament is over, Fleury will go back to Pittsburgh, then at some point soon he'll likely be returned to the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

O'Sullivan will be back in the IceDogs' lineup Friday night for their home date against the Belleville Bulls.

"Probably good and bad, I guess," O'Sullivan said when asked what kind of reception he expects. "Obviously the Canadian fans want the Canadian team to win, but I think a lot of people are going to be happy for me and that makes me feel good inside."

Первая страничка молодежных чемпионатов мира 2004 года
Подгруппа А - подробнее
Россия, Словакия, США, Швеция. Австрия
Подгруппа В - подробнее
Канада, Финляндия, Чехия, Швейцария, Украина
За 7-10 места - подробнее
Швейцария, Швеция, Австрия, Украина
1/4 финала - подробнее
Финляндия - Россия
Словакия - Чехия
1/2 финала - подробнее
Канада - Чехия
США - Финляндия
Финал - подробнее
За 5 место. Россия - Словакия
За 3 место. Финляндия - Чехия
За 1 место. Канада - США
Страничка статистики

Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2004 года.