Nathan Beaulieu looked like he had a golf ball stuck inside his right cheek.
The Canadian junior defenceman took a puck in the face near the end of Canada's 3-2 win over the United States in the final game of the preliminary round of the 2012 and his cheek was swelling as he talked with reporters afterwards.
But this setback was not going to bother the 19-year-old's fun on New Year's Eve. His club was off to the semifinals, set for Tuesday in Calgary. Canada will play the winner of the quarterfinal between Russia and Czech Republic on Monday.
"It's not too bad, is it?" he said, trying to smile. "I look good.
"Yeah, it stung a bit. I'm a Canadian hockey player. I can take it."
Beaulieu also is a future Montreal Canadiens hockey player. So are his Canadian junior teammates, Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival. It's been neat for the three of them to share this experience.
They hail from three different parts of the country, but they know each other well because they have been with the Hockey Canada program and have spent time together at both Habs prospect and training camps in Montreal.
Beaulieu plays for the defending Memorial Cup-champion Saint John Sea Dogs, but spends his summers with his family in Strathroy, Ont. Bournival is from Shawinigan-Sud, Que., and plays for the hometown Cataractes. Gallagher grew up in Tsawwassen, B.C., and plays for Canadian junior coach Don Hay and the Vancouver Giants.
"The whole team has jelled since the beginning of camp," Beaulieu said. " But overall we [the three Habs prospects] have jelled more from this experience. It's neat having four in this game if you include [U.S. defenceman Jarred] Tinordi. It just shows the promise for Montreal in the future and this will help build relationships."
There was no relationship building in the first period, when the 6-foot-7, 215-pound Tinordi gave the much smaller Gallagher a shot in the head as the Canadian forward jostled in front of the U.S. goal looking for a rebound.
Tinordi went to the penalty box for roughing and 29 seconds later, Canadian forward Mark Stone made the U.S. player pay for his sins with a power-play goal.
Tinordi explained his actions afterwards that he didn't like the way Gallagher was crowding U.S. goalie Jack Campbell. Gallagher said that no words were exchanged between the two, but he understood why his future teammate gave him the business.
"He's a really good player, and he plays hard," the 5-foo-8, 178-pound Gallagher said of the much bigger Tinordi. "I try to play hard every game, too."
Friends and competitors
Beaulieu and Tinordi are tight. Beaulieau lives in the London, Ont.-area in the summer and works out with Tinordi, who is in his second year with the London Knights. The two also were roommates at Habs training camp.
"That's all part of the game," Beaulieu said. "Tinordi is one of my best friends off the ice, but I hated his guts tonight."
While the Canadiens lost another game on Saturday, 3-2 to the Florida Panthers, the Canadian junior team kept things perfect in its quest for gold. Time will tell what sort of impact Bournival, who returned after the flu kept him out of Canada's game against Denmark on Thursday, Beaulieu and Gallagher will have in Montreal.
They three have been focussed on their world junior duties and haven't discussed the Habs downfall this season.
"Definitely not at this point in time," Beaulieu said. "We have our own things to worry about. I respect and trust management and the coaching staff in Montreal. I'm sure they what's going on and will fix it."
The three come from hockey families. Bournival's father coached his son in minor hockey in Shawinigan. Beaulieu's Dad is the coach-general manager of the OHL Sarnia Sting. Gallagher's father is the strength and conditioning coach with the Giants.
Of course, Gallagher is in the unique position of playing under Hay with the Giants and the Canadian junior team. Hay is now 11-0 in two stints as Canada's junior coach and is two wins away matching Brent Sutter's two perfect 6-0 runs in 2005 and 2006.
"[Hay] doesn't change," Gallagher said with his omnipresent smile. "He has one way to coach and that's why he wins games. If we continue to do what he says, we're going to continue to win. We're really lucky to have him behind our bench."
When the U.S. made it 3-2 with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period, Hay called a timeout to calm down his teenagers. He also ranted a bit to his players during the stoppage. Gallagher was asked how the stern talking to compared to others he has listened to in his four seasons with Hay on the Giants.
"This obviously was a different situation," Gallagher said. "This was in front of the most intense crowd. It calmed us down and it worked. It was a good timeout to call. We relaxed on the bench and won."
Back to accessibility links