Etem wasn't trying to hurt Canadian goalie
Etem wasn't trying to hurt Canadian goalie. 1,159 words.
CALGARY — Goalies fully accept the risk they take when leaving the crease to play or clear a loose puck.
As such, American forward Emerson Etem felt he wasn’t in the wrong on Saturday night when he was racing goalie Scott Wedgewood in Canada’s zone, dove for the puck, and clipped him in the process.
“We were both going for the puck ... my intentions weren’t to hurt the guy,” Etem said, after the U.S. lost 3-2 to Canada on New Year’s Eve. “But at the same time, I would rather dive for the puck and get it that way than to hit him for it. But if he’s going to challenge me, I’m going to challenge him. If he’s going to come out that far, I’d do the same play (again).
“But thank God he’s OK.”
At the last second, Wedgewood tried to leap over Etem, a sniper for the Medicine Hat Tigers who slid on his side to try and get his stick on the puck.
But, instead, the 19-year-old Plymouth Whalers netminder wound up performing his best gymnastics tumbling routine and did a somersault over Etem, landing awkwardly on his shoulder.
“I didn’t want to hurt him, he didn’t want to hurt me, I don’t think,” Wedgewood said. “Unfortunately, I went head over heels.”
The Brampton, Ont., native was visibly rattled after the spectacular tumble and had to sit on the ice for a few minutes to gather himself. But following a quick visit from the Team Canada trainer, he was back in net.
Meanwhile, Etem and the Americans took a penalty on the play late in the second period.
And, naturally, ‘Wedge-WOOD’ chants ensued from the Rexall Place crowd in Edmonton.
“It got pretty loud in there,” said Wedgewood, smiling. “That shows you the appreciation for all of these guys on this team and everyone’s got big support behind us, which is great to have.
Mark Scheifele knows his stats are modest after four round-robin games.
But the Winnipeg Jets prospect feels he’s contributing in other areas and buying into Team Canada’s system regardless.
“I’ve been working my hardest,” said Scheifele, who scored his only two markers of the tournament against the Czech Republic on Dec. 28. “I’m trying to do whatever it takes to help the team.
“Maybe people think I should be scoring a bit more or producing, but I think I’ve progressed throughout the tournament.”
Projected as a first-line centreman heading into the tournament, there were big expectations of Scheifele considering he was drafted seventh overall in last year’s NHL entry draft and played seven games with the Jets to start the season.
At the moment, he has three points and is a plus-2 with Team Canada.
However, Scheifele feels he has improved. Whether it’s trying to play responsibly in Canada’s zone, or simply just doing what head coach Don Hay has in mind for him, he’s doing the right things.
He admitted he was still getting acclimatized during the three-part exhibition series against Finland, Switzerland, and Sweden in which he did not register a point.
“I didn’t have the best pre-competition games,” said Scheifele, 18. “But after I got that over with, I think I’ve been progressing really well. I’ve got my chances and setting up guys. I just haven’t been getting the greatest bounces. It happens.
“I’m just going to continue to shoot pucks and make good plays and sooner or later, the bounces will come.”
Calgary, meet Boooooooone
It didn’t take long for Rexall Place to be sold on Boone Jenner.
Every time the physical centreman would deliver a big check, make a big play, or touch the puck, the entire crowd — in unison — belted out ‘Boooooooone.’
And don’t worry Edmonton, he heard you.
“A little bit,” Jenner said, smiling. “I wasn’t sure the first few times but as it went on, I thought it was them calling me.
“It’s kind of cool, I guess.”
In fact, Jenner received the same treatment and crowd appreciation when he was at the Columbus Blue Jackets fall training camp after the NHL club selected him 37th overall last summer.
But, to be clear, ‘Boooooooone’ should not to be confused with another similar sounding cheer — that is, heckling from the boo birds.
“Sometimes, you never know,” he said. “But at Rexall, it didn’t matter.”
With Canada shifting now to the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome for the medal round, Jenner expects a boisterous reception for Team Canada regardless of his own personal greeting.
“The semis are probably sold out,” said the Oshawa Generals forward. “The Saddledome holds a lot of people so it should be really loud.
“A lot of Canadians are cheering for us so we’re looking forward to it.”
Old man Hamilton
Freddie Hamilton rung in 2012, just like he does every New Year’s Day: celebrating another birthday.
Sunday, it was the big 2-0 for the Niagara IceDogs forward — making him the elder statesman on Team Canada by 10 days (defenceman Mark Pysyk turns 20 on Jan. 11).
“I guess 20 is a pretty big year,” Hamilton said, smiling. “I’m starting to feel a little old.”
The only other Canadian that celebrated a birthday during the world juniors was Jamie Oleksiak. And, of course, instead of a cake or presents, the big six-foot-six defender was given a shaving cream pie to the face at a skate in Banff on Dec. 21.
“I’ve been kind of watching my back a bit,” Hamilton admitted. “The guys seem to forget with all the excitement around, so hopefully …”
Harrington-Murray dream team
The defensive pairing of Scott Harrington and Ryan Murray earned praise from head coach Don Hay on Sunday.
With their defensive-minded ways, attention to detail in their own zone and smooth skating, they’ve quickly become a steady force on Canada’s blue line.
“They don’t get too involved in the offence as far as getting caught up the ice looking to get points,” Hay said. “They’ll get their points from playing good defence, and moving the puck up to the forwards and just looking after their end.”
So, in other words, think less flash — more dash.
“Mobility is really important,” Hay added. “The ability to skate with the other skilled players they’re going to play against. The ability to play on the defensive side. The ability to be physical at the right time.
“I don’t think you have to look at the big-physical-hit type of defencemen. But if they’re on the defensive side, they have good sticks. They’re going to be in the way. You do a good job frustrating top skilled players by checking them and being in good position.
“Whether you’re a forward or defenceman, you really have to do a good job being on the defensive side of the puck.”
Despite suffering an upper-body injury Saturday against the U.S., Harrington will play in Tuesday’s semifinal, as will Nathan Beaulieu (face/jaw), who was also injured against the Americans.
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