Tired? Scheifele? Not when there’s gold at stake

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Mark Scheifele is eight months into an extended hockey season, but insists he doesn't need a break.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/05/2017 (2025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mark Scheifele is eight months into an extended hockey season, but insists he doesn’t need a break.

“We all train hard to be able to stand up to the NHL season,” the Winnipeg Jets centre said Friday from Cologne, Germany, where he and the rest of his Team Canada mates have the day off at the IIHF World Championship.

“Pittsburgh’s doing it. Ottawa’s doing it. Anaheim, Nashville, all these teams have been in playoffs and they’ve been grinding it out harder than we have over here, so it’s not a big issue.

Canada's forward Mark Scheifele celebrates with team mates after scoring his side's opening goal at the Ice Hockey World Championships quarterfinal match between Canada and Germany in the LANXESS arena in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, May 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

“If you train the right way and take care of your body, then you should be able to withstand it… I don’t find you need much of a mental break.”

Scheifele, who has been centring Canada’s No. 1 forward unit between wingers Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), began his season in September as a member of Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.

Although he had been relatively quiet in the scoring department with just one goal and four assists in seven round-robin games, he was a key figure in Thursday’s quarter-final, scoring once and assisting on Skinner’s game winner as the Canadians edged the host Germans 2-1.

Did he fret over his inability to find the back of the net?

“Not really,” he said. “In these tournaments, it’s not about the points. We had games where we had the puck in the offensive zone the entire time we were on the ice and weren’t able to get anything and then games where it was a little tougher and (we’d) get points. In this tournament, it has no relevance to the way you play, because it’s all team, it’s all about winning that gold medal. That’s all that can be on our minds.”

Canada finished round-robin play at 6-0-1 atop Group B. They take on Russia in the first semifinal Saturday at 8 a.m., and Sweden and Finland tangle in the other at noon. The semifinal losers play for bronze Sunday at 9 a.m. The Canadians are hoping to earn their third consecutive championship in the 1:30 gold-medal game. TSN is broadcasting all of the action.

“They’ve got a lot of skill up front,” Scheifele said of the Russians. “We definitely have to be aware of that. They’re a good team, good skill. They’ll be a tough test for us but we know what we have to do and focus on our side of the game.”

He’s not expecting any special line-matching from the Russians.

“We had last change, being the No. 1 seed, so we didn’t see anything with the Germans but you never know in these tournaments,” he said. “We have to be prepared for anything.”

Forward Vadim Shipachyov, a high-profile Kontinental Hockey League free-agent recently signing by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, will have Canada’s attention.

“He can make play — the saucer pass he made against the States was pretty cool,” Scheifele said. “These Russians can do wonders with the puck. I’m sure Vegas is hoping he pans out for them.”

Another KHL veteran, blue-liner Chris Lee, was a late addition to the Canadian roster and has filled in admirably for an injured Tyson Barrie.

“He’s definitely surprised a lot of people I think,” Scheifele said. “He moves the puck well, he’s smart with it, he plays solid D and has a good stick.”

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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