World Jrs

Team Canada head coach Hay, assistant Walker hit by flu bug

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The Canadian Press
1/2/2012 5:58:24 PM
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CALGARY -- Canada's coaches needed a day without a game at the world junior hockey championship more than the players did.

Head coach Don Hay and assistant coach Scott Walker weren't on the ice for the host team's practice Tuesday. The two were sequestered in the team hotel with the flu.

Assistant coaches George Burnett and Ryan Huska ran drills at Canada Olympic Park as the Canadians prepared for Tuesday's semifinal at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Canada will face the winner of Monday's quarter-final between the Czech Republic and defending champion Russia.

Huska expected Hay to be behind Canada's bench Tuesday night in a game that will determine which country plays for gold Thursday.

"Don, he'll be back," Huska said. "We're just taking all the precautions we can right now.

"We want to catch it ahead of time and make sure we keep it with him and Scott and nobody else, but we're fully expecting him to be back."

After going 4-0 to win Pool B, the Canadian team was rewarded with two straight days without a game and a bye to the semifinal. Sweden won Pool A with a 2-0-2 record and also had Monday off while Russia, the Czechs, Finland and Slovakia played quarter-final contests.

It's still worrisome for the Canadian team that the flu bug has struck. Forward Michael Bournival sat out last week's preliminary-round game against Denmark because of it, although he was back in the lineup for Saturday's 3-2 win over the U.S. in Edmonton.

Players and coaches were trying to limit the spread of the illness, which is why Hay and Walker stayed away from practice.

"It's definitely concerning," captain Jaden Schwartz said. "It's something we've got to pay attention to.

"We can't have anyone getting sick right now. We have to make sure we're washing our hands and doing everything right. There's been a few guys getting the flu around here so we have to make sure we limit that."

When both Hay and Walker became ill early Tuesday, Canadian team doctor Ian Auld spoke to the squad about preventing the spread of germs. Liberal use of hand sanitizer was encouraged. Sharing phones, iPods or digital tablets was discouraged.

"Cell phones, water bottles, roommates' towels, everything," Burnett said. "The key thing is making sure our players are rested, are healthy and at their absolute best for tomorrow."

The Canadian team might not participate in a pre-game skate, so Monday's practice was perhaps its last preparation for the semifinal. Among other things, the Canadian team worked on the power play.

"We understand what Don wants," Huska said. "We talk about our practice plans beforehand, so we were all very aware of what he wanted from us today.

"He just doesn't prepare his players well, he prepares the staff and the other coaches well too. At least he has a good feeling knowing our message we put forth today is the same one he would want given."

Defenceman Nathan Beaulieu practised wearing a full cage after taking a puck off his right cheek Saturday. Defenceman Scott Harrington left that game with what Hay called an "upper-body injury" but he too was on the ice Monday. The assistant coaches said both are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday.

Hockey Canada makes a practice of booking an extra hotel room in the event a sick player needs to be quarantined. The coaches have their own hotel rooms.

In an informal survey of some players -- Schwartz, Freddie Hamilton, Brandon Gormley, Jonathan Huberdeau, Boone Jenner, Brett Connolly, Brandon Gormley and goaltender Scott Wedgewood -- all said they've had flu shots this winter. Many of their club teams hold vaccination clinics for players and staff who want it.

In Huberdeau's case, he said he was vaccinated at the NHL's Florida Panthers camp. Huska says he hasn't had a flu shot because he once had a reaction to it, but Burnett says he was vaccinated.

The Canadian team lost NHL winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a broken foot in the tournament-opener last week. The players were trying to take the flu development in stride.

"It'll probably help bring us closer to together and remind us to take care of ourselves even more, so I think we'll be ready for the game tomorrow," centre Freddie Hamilton said. "We've definitely done really good so far to get here, but we've had one goal, the gold medal.

"I don't think any of us are satisfied so far with that we've done."

Don Hay (Photo: Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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