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For Schenn, no silver lining ; MVP means little without gold

Brayden Schenn was on the verge of becoming known for being more than just the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn.

He was 20 minutes from becoming a national hero, the star who carried Canada up to its place atop the junior hockey mountain -- and doing so in record-matching, MVP fashion against a longtime rival.

Instead, Schenn was the picture of disappointment on the Team Canada bench when the final horn blew. That's what happens when the golden moment every Canadian hockey player dreams of attaining turns into a nightmare.

Schenn turned the World Junior Hockey Championship into his coming-out party. The Los Angeles Kings prospect matched the Canadian record for most points (18) in a single world junior championship. He seemingly produced the points when it mattered most during Canada's seven games.

It didn't matter as Schenn's dream of winning a gold medal was crushed by Russia, 5-3, before a stunned pro-Canadian crowd at sold-out HSBC Arena.

Canada carried what seemed to be a safe 3-0 lead into the third period. It took only 7:29 for it to disappear. The Russians took the lead for good with 4:38 left on Artemi Panarin's second goal of the frame.

Schenn tried his best to rally Canada in the final minutes but Russia blanketed him and kept him from breaking former Sabre Dale McCourt's points' record and denied the Canadians' quest for a record 16th gold medal.

"That was one of the toughest periods of hockey I ever played," Schenn said. "It's hard to believe. It's really shocking to see five goals go in [during the third period]."

This is the second straight year Schenn has experienced the agony of defeat in the one junior tournament every Canadian kid dreams of winning -- an opportunity earned by only a select few.

He's had two chances and has nothing but silver to show for it as he also was a member of the Canada team that lost to the United States in overtime last year in Saskatoon.

Ever since that defeat, all of Canada had its eyes set on the just completed 11-day stretch in Buffalo because it was a chance to make amends.

Schenn did his best to make it happen, playing the final two games of the tournament with a shoulder injury suffered in a quarterfinal win over the Swiss. He had a five-point game against Norway in which his four goals matched a tournament record shared by, among others, former Penguins star Mario Lemieux. He had a four-point effort in a win over the Czech Republic. He willed Canada to a tournament-opening win over Russia with a two-point third period in a 6-3 win.

Schenn had a goal and an assist Wednesday, his tally giving the Canadians a seemingly safe 3-0 lead 6:27 into the second period.

It wasn't enough.

"[The MVP] is a nice thing to have but if you don't win it doesn't mean a lot," said Schenn. "I'd rather have a gold medal and be celebrating with my teammates."

"Last year it's just one goal and it's in," said Schenn describing the feeling of last year's loss and this year's. "This one you kind of almost just see it keep on going away [from you]. Once they got that fifth goal it was a lot of disbelief."

***

Norway and Germany lost their spots in the top division of the World Junior Championship in 2012 by placing ninth and 10th this year. Taking their spot in next year's event in Edmonton and Calgary will be Latvia and Denmark.

e-mail: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

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