Star Phoenix article today's paper!
Kyle Chipchura shows off his gold medal at the Saskatoon airport Friday
Photograph by : Greg Pender, The StarPhoenix
Cory Wolfe, The StarPhoenix
Published: Saturday, January 07, 2006
Kyle Chipchura almost blended in with the rest of the weary travellers who made noon arrivals Friday at the Saskatoon airport.
After a sleepless night, his hair was a bit askew. A bulky suede coat and white Puma sneakers added to his disheveled appearance.
But something separated Chipchura from the other travellers: the gold medal in the front pocket of his jeans.
"When you're not supposed to win and then you win it at home, it's unbelievable," said Chipchura, who captained the underdog Canadians to world junior gold Thursday night in Vancouver with a 5-0 win over Russia.
Earlier Friday, Dale Hawerchuk emerged through the airport's security gate. Yet, nobody batted an eye as the Hall of Famer connected with mates for an NHL oldtimers' game in Prince Albert. When the eccentric Eddie Shack arrived on a subsequent fl ight from Toronto, his big, black cowboy hat barely drew a second glance, either.
Chipchura's arrival drew plenty more fanfare. A dozen media types converged and the Prince Albert Raiders' 19-year-old centre reacted as if encountering a surprise party.
It was the second time in less than 24 hours that the he had been swarmed.
At GM Place, Chipchura's mates mobbed him as he thrust the championship trophy in the air.
"I didn't really know how to do it at the start," Chipchura said with a chuckle.
"As soon as I touched that thing, the crowd went crazy. It hasn't all sunk in yet, but it's something that I'll look at forever and they can't take it away from us now."
Chipchura will remember singing O Canada -- and that teammate David Bolland was on his right "because he couldn't stay in tune with everybody else."
Later, behind closed doors, Canadian coach Brent Sutter told his motley crew that he was proud of them. No, the old grinder didn't cry, but as Chipchura noted: "We got to see -- I don't know how to explain it -- but the softer side of Brent Sutter."
Of course, Chipchura won't forget scoring in the gold-medal game. With 2:45 left, he bagged Canada's final goal in the 5-0 rout. Chipchura joked that years from now, when he describes that goal, "it will be a lot nicer and it will be a lot bigger."
But, he added, "when that one went in, it almost felt like all of (Russia's) hope was gone. Then the guys really realized that we had done something amazing."
Indeed they had. Canada entered the tournament in the shadow of the Americans and the Russians. Yet, the hosts beat both teams on their golden journey and set a tournament record by surrendering just six goals in six games.
While the accomplishments of the Canadian team are now entrenched in hockey history, Captain Canada proved he's only human. Chipchura survived 11 minutes of verbal forechecking from the assembled media before politely excusing himself.