|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Gagne, Esche, and Roenick Talk About the World Cup of Hockey
Saturday, September 4, 2004
By Gregg Williams
For some time, The World Cup of Hockey and its predecessor, the Canada Cup, represented the only world hockey championships truly open to the world's best players. In this year's event, Canada and USA opened the World Cup of Hockey by facing each other in their first game in Montreal. After Team Canada defeated Team USA 2-1 in their first game of the World Cup of Hockey, some of the Flyers answered questions about the game and the World Cup of Hockey.
First up for the questions was Simon Gagne.
Q: What’s it like playing in the World Cup?
Gagne: "It's great. It's a great feeling right now to have a chance to represent Team Canada. We had a chance to play in Montreal and our next game is in Toronto. Being around the fans is a great feeling when you go out on the ice. You hear the crowd, they're just cheering for your team and it's a great feeling."
Q: How did it feel to score a goal last night?
Gagne: "It felt great. It's always fun to jump on the board when you help the team. I just tried to play my game and hope I can play my best every night. When you find the back of the net it's a great feeling. It was very fun to see that puck go in last night."
Q: Team Canada is the favorite to win it all. Do you feel any pressure from this?
Gagne: "Yes, we feel the pressure. The people here in Canada expect us to win. Our goal is to win the World Cup. That's what we want to do. At the same time, we feel the pressure. We're in Canada right now and every place we go the talk is how we are supposed to win. It's pressure but we like it, we're going to take it and put out and play our best game every night."
Q: What's it like playing with your new Tampa Bay line mates?
Gagne: "It's fun. It's a great experience for me to be able to play with two great players like that. We have a lot of speed on that line. We created a lot of great chances the last two games. I enjoy playing with those two guys. It doesn't matter if they play with Tampa Bay but right now we put that on the side. It's a lot of fun to play with Martin (St. Louis) and Brad (Richards)."
Q: How is it different than playing in the NHL?
Gagne: "It's like playoff hockey. Every game, every shift you need to play your best. You cannot take one easy shift. You need to play hard every shift and hope you don't make a mistake. Right now you have to put it in your head that you're playing against the best players in the world. They pick you for one reason and you have to play your game and not to try and do something different. That's what I'm trying to do right now.”
ROBERT ESCHE answered the following:
Q: Were you nervous going in to the game?
ESCHE: "No, I felt a lot like I did going into the playoffs last season. I was kind of relaxed and I am feeling good about the way I rehabbed and the way I got back with everything. I was just anxious to start playing again."
Q: You played very well last night. The broadcasters were all complimenting your play, including Jeremy Roenick. Does that build your confidence?
ESCHE: "I don't know if it makes you feel any better or build any confidence. I've been pretty confident for a while about my game and the way that I play. It's nice to hear that every now and then, but the bottom line is we lost 2-1. That never really sits easy with me. All in all it was a fun game, though."
Q: Are you in net tomorrow vs. Russia?
Q: What do you know about the Russian team?
ESCHE: "They are a good hockey club. We played them in exhibition. They have a lot of quality scoring chances. They are a great skilled one-on-one team. They don't dump the puck much. They carry it into the zone. They're a possession team. We're going to have to be on our "A" game if we want to beat them."
JEREMY ROENICK QUOTES ON WORLD CUP GAME USA vs. CANADA
Q: How was it in the broadcast booth?
Roenick: "It was an awesome experience, but I'll tell you what, it was very difficult. You don't understand or realize how hard it is to call a game accurately, to call a game with two other guys in the booth and get your point across at the right time and follow the play. You have to follow everything that is going on during the game with a headset on and people talking in your ear. There's a lot of action happening. It was quite an experience but I had a lot of fun.
Q: What did you think of the game? How do you think USA did?
Roenick: "I thought the U.S. came out very flat. I thought they were very intimidated by the fans in Montreal. They knew they were playing against the whole country last night and I think Canada knew that, too. Canada came out flying. If it wasn't for Robert Esche last night, it would have been probably an 8-1 or 9-1 game. "Eschie” was by far the best player in the whole game on both sides."
Q: Did you think those scrums early in the game favored the U.S. AND did you ever see Mario go after another player like that?
Roenick: "I have seen Mario go after another guy like that. It was Brad Ference in Florida a couple of years ago. It just goes to show you what kind of adrenaline there is and how fierce the competition that they are in right now. I definitely think that the scrums helped the U.S. because it slowed Canada down. They (Canada) were on such a roll and were dominating so much of the play. With the scrums, the U.S. was able to slow down the pace and their forwards were able to get back into the game."
The USA team was defeated the next night 3-1 by Team Russia in Minneapolis. Again the USA team came out flat and Esche kept them in the game as he stopped 42 shots.