Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ellerby, Jets tune in Canada's golden game

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AN admitted hockey junkie, Mark Scheifele wasn't going to skip a nanosecond of Canada-Sweden in the Olympic gold-medal final.

Andrew Ladd missed the first two periods, but was hooked for the final 20 minutes. Paul Maurice, like any hockey coach, wouldn't pass on the opportunity to study all the little intricacies of two hockey powers duelling on the big ice.

And then there was Zach Bogosian, who was up early Sunday morning but didn't watch a lick of Canada's gold-medal triumph.

"I was having a coffee, but I didn't watch the game," said Bogosian during a break at Sunday's Winnipeg Jets practice outdoors at The Forks. "Coffee was more important to me, I guess.

"I'm American."

But perhaps no Jet was more engaged -- once he awoke -- in what was happening thousands of kilometres away than Keaton Ellerby. It just so happens Carey Price is Ellerby's second cousin and he also served as best man at the Canadian netminder's wedding last summer.

"It's amazing. He's my best friend and he's an idol to me," said Ellerby. "So, seeing him go out there and get two shutouts like that in the semis and the finals against two very good teams like the U.S. and Sweden... it's amazing to see him do so well and get that gold medal.

"I set my alarm but actually missed the first period because I had to hit 'snooze' a couple of times. I was up supporting him. I'm just ecstatic and super happy for him."

It's long been said since Price has the perfect temperament to play goal for the Montreal Canadiens, he could certainly handle the pressure of playing for Canada in Sochi.

And that was certainly on display over the last week or so at the Olympics.

"He's the most laid-back guy you'll ever meet in your life," said Ellerby. "Nothing fazes him. He's just so calm and cool and collected all the time. Even leading up to the Olympics I said to him, 'Have they said anything to you about the starting goalie?' He said, 'I haven't heard a word.' And when I asked him if that bothered him he said, 'Whatever happens, happens.' That's his response, a life-goes-on kinda thing.

"But he stepped in there with all the pressure of trying to repeat and did a heckuva job."

Price was fronted by a defensive crew that was dominant and a forward group that was committed to defence. And for Maurice it was that work -- the stifling defensive play -- which impressed him most about Team Canada.

"That was a pretty dominating performance," said Maurice. "And I'm not talking about necessarily blowing the other team's doors off with chances, but what they gave up... so little on the big ice. That was impressive. The team play was fantastic."

Jets' captain Andrew Ladd, who was invited to the Canadian Olympic orientation camp last summer, was also taken by the defensive work of the gold-medal squad.

"They played the right way throughout the whole tournament," Ladd said. "The times that I watched, defensively they were strong and they knew that if they did that they had the offensive power to get goals at key times.

"It ended on a good note. Gold in the women's and men's... we're proud of their effort."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 24, 2014 0

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