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Something is better than nothing for Canadians

At least we got to hear the playing of the Canadian national anthem. Even if it came way earlier than anyone would have liked. As Don Cherry said over the weekend on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada: "We're still the best".

At least we got to hear the playing of the Canadian national anthem.

Even if it came way earlier than anyone would have liked.

As Don Cherry said over the weekend on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada: "We're still the best".

Canada lost what was probably one of the most exciting hockey games played at the Juniors' tournament last Tuesday night.

Canada lost 6-5 in regulation which sent them to the bronze medal game.

Russia got shutout 1-0 by Sweden who went on to win the gold medal, in overtime, at the World Junior Hockey Championships last Thursday evening to conclude the tournament.

Nobody in Canada would ever be caught saying they actually had their hopes pinned on a third-place finish but as the saying goes 'something is better than nothing'.

The Canadians had been on the verge of completing one of the most awesome comebacks I've ever seen in world junior hockey.

I've seen three-goal comebacks before, the last one coming 4-5 years ago near my hometown; three goals in 2:49 then the winner (scored by the same team) in overtime.

Canada had their work cut out for them two but still ended up taking all their fans on a wild ride. Beautiful goals too. Nothing cheap or dirty. But a five-goal comeback was a little too much to ask on that particular night. Suspect goaltending probably didn't help much, but that was the source of the beauty of the bronze medal game.

Out of the two medal games (Russia vs. Sweden for gold and Canada vs. Finland for bronze), only the Canadians were able to score more than one goal.

Against the Finland squad that 19-year-old kid from Waterdown, ON., named Visentin managed to restore his reputation heading into last year's gold medal meltdown in Buffalo.

The Globe and Mail examined the whole thing perfectly the morning after.

Mark Visentin proved that saying about something being better than nothing is actually quite true. Nothing worse would have been losing that bronze medal too.

The goalkeeper was brilliant when he had to be therefore Team Canada continued its 10+ year streak of bringing home gold medals courtesy of their Junior hockey players.

What were fans across the country thinking when this tall, skinny goalie took a seemingly comfortable lead into the final frame of a medal game?

This was the same goaltender who, up until about a week or two ago, took all the blame for the third-period collapse that saw the Russians win the gold medal last year in Buffalo.

In this year's tournament, it was roughly the same thing, only there were bronze medals on the line instead of gold ones.

In this case, final score: 4-0 Canada with goaltender Mark Visentin granted a standing ovation as the player of the game and Mark Visentin with the shutout to ensure his country gets a medal.

It wasn't for the gold, and it wasn't against Russia, but it was probably the greatest amount of personal redemption for a kid that hasn't even seen his 20th birthday yet.

Visentin of course did not help his case much in this year's tilt with the offensively-dynamic Russians, but when he stepped out onto the ice in that game, his team was already down 4-1. The final score wound up being 6-5.

That particular game showed what happens when a hockey team doesn't actually wake up until the game is more than two-thirds over. Anybody can win, any day of the week, but not this time.

But at least against Finland, Visentin played well enough to win the game. The goalie, who was so viciously criticized a year ago, made his statement early in the Finland game by stonewalling Markus Granlund on a clear cut breakaway. Granlund was supposedly the most feared forward in the tournament.

Visentin probably exactly what he needed when teammate Mark Scheifele set up Tanner Pearson for the game's first goal.

Visentin stopped a penalty shot awarded to Teemu Pulkkinen, then, according to everyone who saw, went on to make The Save. A phenomenal catch after the puck hit him in the shoulder, off the crossbar and was heading into the net, when he swung around backward, catching it blind. If there's anything you'd like to see covered by Game 7, please forward your suggestions to the Yorkton This Week sportsdesk by phone (306) 782-2465, or email jeff@yorkton this