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G W North

U.S.A. beats Canada to win World Jr Hockey tourney

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I know this tournament gets very little attention in the United States, but it's very big in Canada.

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WJHC: US stuns Canada to win gold

Canadian Press

1/5/2004

HELSINKI (CP) - A freak goal credited to Patrick O'Sullivan of the OHL's Mississauga IceDogs with 5:12 remaining capped a U.S. comeback in a 4-3 win over Canada in the final of the world junior hockey championships Monday.

Canadian goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to clear the puck but it bounced off defenceman Braydon Coburn and into the net despite a wild lunge from Fleury.

It was O'Sullivan's second goal of the period as the Americans scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to stun the Canadians.

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It was a gut-wrenching loss for Canada, which led 3-1 after two periods and was looking to end a six-year gold medal drought. Instead, Canada takes home a third straight silver medal after blowing a lead for the third consecutive year.

``I thought things were going pretty well and we kind of sat back in the third period and made a couple of mental mistakes and it kind of cost us,'' Canadian forward Nigel Dawes said. ``The last goal was self-explanatory. Things weren't meant to be tonight.''

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks and Dan Fritsche of the Columbus Blue Jackets also scored for the Americans, who won their first-ever world junior tournament while going a perfect 6-0-0.

American Zach Parise, a New Jersey Devils first-round draft pick, was named MVP of the tournament.

Dawes of the WHL's Kootenay Ice scored twice while Anthony Stewart of the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs had a goal and two assists for Canada, which suffered its first defeat of the tournament after five wins.

Thirteen members of the Canadian team were 18 or under and will be eligible for next year's tournament.

``There's a lot of `85s in that room so just hope this will be a learning experience and they will be able to get that gold medal next year,'' Canadian head coach Mario Durocher said.

Host Finland edged the Czech Republic 2-1 earlier Monday to win the bronze medal.

Fleury, who started this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, had not been severely tested in Canada's previous games and was expected to be the difference in Monday's championship game. But in the third period, he didn't deliver when it counted most.

``I scored in my own net today. That doesn't help,'' Fleury said.

But captain Dan Paille said Fleury wasn't to blame, saying that the Canadian team's defence didn't help Fleury early in the third period.

``It wasn't his fault. It was just a bad bounce,'' Paille said of the winning goal. ``No one blames the way he played in this tournament or in this game.''

U.S. netminder Al Montoya, expected to be a top pick in next June's NHL entry draft, settled down after allowing the third goal.

After giving up a pair of goals to go down 3-1 in the second period, the U.S. came charging back in the third period by scoring twice in the first seven minutes.

``We said `What are the things we can control?''' U.S. coach Mike Eaves said. ``We needed to get more pucks and bodies at the net.

``We could have folded but we stayed with it and worked hard and got rewarded.''

Kesler was left alone in front of Fleury and flipped a shot high over top of Fleury at 6:58.

The U.S. narrowed Canada's lead to one goal at 4:39 when the Americans had Canada outnumbered on a 3-on-2. Patrick Eaves sent a cross-ice pass to O'Sullivan and the Minnesota Wild draft pick beat Fleury with a sharp-angled shot.

Canada appeared to be in full control of the game after going up 3-1 in the second period.

Stewart, a first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, beat U.S. defenceman Matt Carle in a foot race from the blue-line and sneaked the puck under Montoya's glove at 12:56.

The goal seemed to deflate the Americans, who were on their heels for the remainder of the period as Canada dominated play. The Canadians outshot the Americans 11-6 in the period.

Canada lost associate captain Tim Brent for about five minutes of the second period. He took a hard check along the boards from U.S. captain Brad Stuart and went down hard on his back. Brent needed assistance getting off the ice and appeared woozy, but was back on the ice just after the midway point.

Stuart's penalty and another by defenceman Ryan Suter gave Canada 42 seconds worth of a two-man advantage, but American penalty-killers kept Canada at bay.

Dawes, a New York Rangers draft pick, gave Canada a 2-1 lead by scoring 12 seconds into the period. He re-directed a Michael Richards shot from the blue-line past Montoya.

After the U.S. tied the game at 8:57 of the first period, the Canadians looked nervous for the rest of the period as they overskated the puck occasionally and didn't get a strong forecheck going on the U.S.

Unlike Canada's previous opponents here, the Americans were willing and able to engage the Canadians in physical play.

Canada's defence went soft around Fleury as Fritsche scored a wraparound goal on a backhand and he had time to take a couple of whacks at it.

Canada scored the first goal of the game when Stewart chipped the puck up to Dawes in the neutral zone. Dawes skated over the blue-line with a turn of speed and beat Montoya high at 3:25.

The 2005 world junior hockey championship will be held in Grand Forks, N.D., and the U.S. will go in as the defending champion.

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That was one of the most devistating losses I have ever witnessed. The look on Dawes' face after the game as he talked to Gord Miller was devistating.

All I can hope is that Edmonton gets the World Juniors in 2006 so that I can cheer on the red and white on home ice! :lol:

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