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Despite loss, Canada's Eberle named tournament MVP

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The Canadian Press
1/6/2010 1:02:36 AM
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SASKATOON -- He came close, but Jordan Eberle couldn't bail his team out this time.

Canada's miracle man, with a penchant for late-game goals, was named the top forward and most valuable player at the world junior hockey championship after scoring two late goals in Tuesday night's gold medal game.

Yet, the accolades come as little solace after his team's 6-5 overtime loss to the United States.

"It's not easy sitting on that blue-line and not hearing your anthem," said Eberle, who finished the tournament in Saskatoon with eight goals and five assists, good enough for second in tournament scoring behind America's Derek Stepan.

"It's a tournament you watch growing up and it's sad to have it end like this, but I can go out with my head up high."

Eberle, who is not eligible to play for Canada's junior team next year, finished his career with 14 goals -- more than any other player to dawn a Canadian jersey at this level.

On Tuesday night Eberle, whose NHL rights are owned by the Edmonton Oilers, added to his list of late-game heroics in his two world junior appearances. He was a member of Canada's gold medal team in Ottawa last year.

With his team down 5-3 with 3:11 remaining in the third period, Eberle potted a power-play goal to awaken the crowd at Credit Union Centre and resuscitate a flat Canadian side.

Eberle completed his one-man comeback bid a minute and fourteen seconds later when he lifted a rebound past American goalkeeper Jack Campbell.

"When you score a goal like that it definitely picks up your team momentum," said Eberle. "It almost lifts your team to a point where you think you're going to win.

"I think that was kind of my goal this whole tournament -- to get big goals when we needed it."

Added teammate Nazem Kadri: "He's definitely the unsung hero. When push came to shove he got us a goal."

Eberle's dramatic contribution to the world juniors includes one of Canada's comeback goals in regulation and a shootout goal in a stunning 5-4 win over the United States in this tournament's round robin.

Yet he may best be remembered for his tying goal with 5.4 seconds remaining to send Canada and Russia to overtime in last year's semifinal, a game Canada would win 6-5 in a shootout.

Eberle, of course, provided the winner in that shootout.

"I've never seen a guy as clutch as he is," said Stepan. "He's a special player and he's got a knack for the net.

"He's got a good set of hands and he'll play in the NHL for a lot of years as well."

Eberle returns to the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats to finish out his junior career. It is likely that he'll clinch a spot on Edmonton's roster next season.

"He sure has been a terrific soldier for Canada," Edmonton head coach Pat Quinn said after his team's 5-4 overtime loss to Phoenix. "He's scored some just incredibly big goals and he had another two big ones tonight."

But for now, the future is only a silver lining to the second-place finish.

Jordan Eberle (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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