Price between pipes for Canada
26.12.2006. Petrie, Michael. The Gazette

 Habs prospect to start junior opener; 'To win, you have to play the best hockey you've ever played,' coach Hartsburg says

The Maple Leaf was hoisted up a flagpole yesterday morning in this cozy lakeside community.

For the next 11 days, the defending world junior hockey champions will hunker down beneath this flag at a hotel that's already being referred to as the Canadian Embassy. From this residence, they will plot a strategy to win a third straight crown.

They flew in a team chef and loads of comfort food from Calgary, while big-screen televisions, Slingbox technology and Internet connections provide easy contact with their home country.

All the peripheral details have been addressed.

Now, it's a matter of playing hockey. This challenge begins today (1 p.m., TSN, RDS) when the Canadians face Sweden in front of a sellout crowd at Ejendals Arena.

"To win, you have to play the best hockey you've ever played," head coach Craig Hartsburg said after yesterday's practice.

"That's why we won last year (in Vancouver). Guys played the best hockey of their lives.

"Whether you're playing three minutes or 25 minutes, every guy has to be focused on his shift. You have to do the little things right, you have to play your roles and play your best."

Hartsburg announced that Canadiens draft pick Carey Price will be Canada's starting goalie and Leland Irving will back him up. Though Canada faces the United States tomorrow, the plan is to let Price go back-to-back.

The Canadians have won two championships in a row and are riding a streak of 12 straight victories and a shutout run of more than 150 minutes.

They have 11 players back from the squad that won in Vancouver - five defenceman, six forwards - and are among the favourites here, along with the U.S. and the host team.

"You don't want to let people down, let your country down, your friends and your family down," returning forward Dan Bertram said.

"Guys know they have to succeed. There's no, 'Maybe we can,' or 'What ifs.' It's more like we're going to do it. That's the stance we've taken as a team."

 With 11 returning players from a dominating defensive performance in Vancouver, Canada is a gold-medal favourite again at the world juniors. The defencemen are the key.


D Kristopher Letang, Marc Staal, Luc Bourdon; F Steve Downie, Andrew Cogliano.

The Russians don't have a big gun in their lineup as they've had the last two years (Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin). Goaltending has been their downfall in back-to-back losses to Canada in the gold- medal game.


G Semen Varlamov, D Yuri Alexandrov, F Artem Anisimov.

Finland is the most consistent country at this tournament behind Canada with five bronze medals in the last six tournaments. The Finns' ace in the hole is Tuukka Rask, named the best goaltender in Vancouver and is one of seven returning players.


Rask, F Jesse Joensuu, D Teemu Laakso.

The favoured Americans underachieved in Vancouver because of a lack of team chemistry. The U.S. has so much talent and so many NHL draft picks that if they ever get it together, watch out. Their defence looks as good as Canada's, led by Erik Johnson.


D Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Brian Lee; F Jack Skille, Patrick Kane.

The Swedes haven't reached the podium since a silver-medal finish in 1996 and haven't won it since 1981. They open against Canada and a win would give the hosts incredible momentum for the rest of the tournament. Plenty of firepower up front.


Niklas Bergfors, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund; G Jhonas Enroth.

Sweden has been good to the Czechs as they've won a medal every time the Swedes have hosted this tournament, including the first of back-to-back titles in 2000. The Czechs have a solid nucleus of five players who were high NHL draft picks and that should get them to the quarter-finals.


D Jakub Kindl; F Martin Hanzal, Petr Kalus, Michael Frolik.

The Swiss give other countries fits. They're long shots for the podium but they can be the spoiler that ruins another country's medal hopes.


G Reto Berra, F Juraj Simek.

Like the Czechs, the Slovaks will have a lot of CHL players in their lineup. Red Deer Rebels defenceman Vladimir Mihalik, a first- round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is the showpiece of a Slovak team that doesn't look very deep up front.


Mihalik, F Mario Bliznak.

It used to be just the team that finished last was relegated to the second-tier world junior championship, which gave Belarus a fighting chance of staying in the A world championship. But since 2003, it's the bottom two that get sent down to play their way back and Belarus has been on a relegation yo-yo.


F Ihar Varashylau, Sergei Kostitsyn

See Belarus above. But with nine returning players and three NHL draft picks, the Germans could make the relegation round interesting.


F Constantin Braun, Felix Schutz; D Korbinian Holzer.

Canadian Press

Подгруппа А
Канада, США, Швеция, Словакия, Германия
Подгруппа В
Россия, Финляндия, Чехия, Швейцария, Белоруссия
За 7-10 места
Швейцария, Словакия, Германия, Белоруссия

1/4 финала
Швеция - Чехия
Финляндия - США
1/2 финала
Россия - Швеция
США - Канада
За 5 место. Чехия - Финляндия
За 3 место. США - Швеция
За 1 место. Канада - Россия
Первая страничка турнира
Статистика турнира

Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2007 года.