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Team Russia forward Artemi Panarin (27) scores the game winning goal on Team Canada goaltender Mark Visentin (30) as defenceman Simon Despres (3) defends during third period Gold medal game at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday January 5, 2011. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
Team Russia forward Artemi Panarin (27) scores the game winning goal on Team Canada goaltender Mark Visentin (30) as defenceman Simon Despres (3) defends during third period Gold medal game at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday January 5, 2011. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

ROY MACGREGOR

A Canadian goaltender's lesson in life Add to ...

He prepared as usual - a meal of chicken parmesan, listen to some music (everything from rap to country) on the iPad Hockey Canada gave each player for Christmas, get to the rink, work on his sticks, go through the warm-up - but no one, not the coaches, not the country, was prepared for that third period.

It has been described as the greatest collapse ever in Canada's time in international hockey, but there are comparables. Alan Eagleson says what happened in Buffalo reminded him of Game 5 in the 1972 Summit Series. Team Canada was up 4-1 into the third period in Moscow, only to have the Soviets score two very quick goals - quicker even than the Russians scored their two on Mark Visentin - on Tony Esposito and then two more before the period was out to win 5-4.

Mr. Esposito, it might be worth pointing out, went on to a Hall-of-Fame career.

"People lose perspective," says Dan Visentin. "The better team won.

"Mark will be fine. He's not just my son, he's my best friend - and he's a great guy. He's got his whole future in front of him."

It took a long time for Mark Visentin to drive home that night. He thinks he probably got in around 3:30. "It was weird," he says of the drive back. "There was just so much to take in."

He was grateful for his goaltending coach with the IceDogs, Ben Vanderklok, who has worked hard on "focus" and "attitude" and "confidence" the past two years.

"It was a tough pill to swallow," he says. "But I think I'm a better person for it. This has been a big learning curve." If he gets a chance next year, when he'll only be 19, he'll be ready. He just hopes to get the chance.

There was no one up when he came through the front door, but then the sound of an old dog's nails moving along the floor.

Sheba came hurrying toward him, wiggling and tail wagging.

"She was just happy to see me," he says.

And he her, after the day he had just put in.

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