UFA, Russia -- Canadian junior hockey team coach Steve Spott asked his players at a team meeting if anyone had something they wanted to say. Dougie Hamilton put up his hand.
The Niagara IceDogs defenceman is one of six players on the Canadian team who were stunned to fall behind 6-1 to Russia in the semifinal of last year's world junior hockey championship.
Canada mounted a third-period comeback in Calgary, but lost their chance at a gold medal in a 6-5 loss. It was the first time in 11 years Canada hadn't played for gold.
As in 2012, this year's team earned a bye to the semifinal by finishing first in their pool in Ufa, Russia.
That gave the Canadians a day off from the ice on New Year's Day, plus a day of preparation while their semifinal opponent -- the United States -- beat the Czech Republic 7-0 in Wednesday's quarter-final.
After the players had their day off Tuesday, Hamilton felt it necessary to drive home the message that the bye is not necessarily an advantage in this tournament.
"I just said last year with the time off we had, I don't think we were prepared for the semis," the Boston Bruins prospect explained. "You're 4-0 and have a little bit of expectation that you're going to just keep winning and think maybe things are going to be easy.
"Russia played the night before and it went into overtime I think. They were ready the next day and hungry and we were just kind of sitting there watching.
"We've got to come out tomorrow and come ready to play."
Defenceman Scott Harrington and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome, Mark Scheifele and Boone Jenner are the other veterans from that crushing loss to Russia last year. It's not a happy memory for them, but one that those players can use Thursday.
"It was in my head for a long time, but after, you can't do anything about it. This year we don't want to have that," Huberdeau said. "What we want to do the most is have a good first period."
U.S. 7 Czech Republic 0
Russia 4 Switzerland 3 (SO)
Canada vs. U.S., 3 a.m.
Sweden vs. Russia, 7 a.m.
Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, 7 a.m.
Semifinal losers, 3 a.m.
Semifinal winners, 7 a.m.
Nugent-Hopkins, Cda38 11