TORONTO -- There will be only one acceptable result Monday night for Team Canada.
The Canadians meet Russia at 8 p.m. in the Air Canada Centre for the gold medal of the World Junior Championships. The game is on NHL Network.
Canada is 6-0 in the tournament, has outscored its opponents by an incredible 34-5 count and is coming off Sunday's 5-1 semifinal win over Slovakia. Its roster is filled with big-time NHL prospects like Connor McDavid, the Sabres' Sam Reinhart, Curtis Lazar, Max Domi and Darnell Nurse. Winnipeg draftee Nic Petan had a hat trick Sunday and leads the tournament with 11 points; McDavid, who has six assists the last two games, and Reinhart have 10 apiece.
Canada is trying to break a long drought in this tourney. The Canadians haven't medaled the last two years and haven't taken gold since 2009.
The last time they met the Russians in the ultimate game, they looked like a sure bet -- and then everything changed. The date was Jan. 5, 2011 in then-HSBC Arena. The house was full of red-clad Canadian fans who were wild as their heroes, with a roster that included Sabres draftees Marcus Foligno and Zack Kassian, built a 3-0 lead through two periods.
Then it all fell apart. The Russians, captained by current St. Louis star Vladimir Tarasenko, scored five goals in the third period to post a stunning 5-3 win that rates as one of the worst collapses in Canadian hockey history.
Here was my story from that night, when an almost certain Team Canada coronation turned into one of the country's biggest hockey nightmares ever.
Here's Bucky Gleason's column, discussing the pressure the Canadian players faced in the wake of their wild fan base.
On the next day, I wrote how the game was still the hottest topic in Canadian media.
Here's a video reliving all the goals and so much from that night. The wild atmosphere as the Canadians led and the crushing silence as they blew the lead really come through.