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CROSBY GRATEFUL FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE

Wednesday, 05.31.2006 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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CROSBY GRATEFUL FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE

Sidney Crosby dazzled the NHL during his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins this year.

If anyone outside of North America had any doubts about Crosby’s electrifying skills, they certainly know what No. 87 is all about now.

Crosby amazed on the global stage during the IIHF World Championships, which were held in Latvia throughout May.

Only 18, Crosby led the tournament with eight goals and 16 points in nine games for Team Canada. He recorded at least a point in Canada’s first eight games. To put it all into perspective, Crosby became the youngest player – and only 18-year-old – ever to win a scoring title at the World Championship in the tournament’s modern era (since the U.S.S.R. joined international hockey in 1954). Canada’s Red Berenson (1959) and Jim Logan (1956) were the previous youngest players to capture World Championship scoring titles. Both were 19.

“It was a great experience,” said Crosby, who was back in Pittsburgh following the tournament and a European vacation. “Hopefully, I can bring what I learned to the rest of my career.”

Crosby, who named the tournament’s top forward and selected to the media all-star team, centered a line with Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron. The trio combined for 38 points. Boyes had eight points (4+4), while Bergeron was second overall to his friend Crosby in the points race with 14 (6+8).

“It was fun because we’ve played together in the past,” Crosby said. “Berge is a good guy and a lot of fun. Anytime you get to play for Team Canada and play with guys you know, it’s great.”

In addition, Crosby got to skate alongside a solid veteran and leader in Brendan Shanahan. He joined Team Canada right after his Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Shanahan was named Canada’s captain, while Crosby was an alternate captain – the same distinction he earned with the Penguins this year.

“To have a captain like Brendan Shanahan was a good learning experience. It was great to play with him,” Crosby said. “He has won three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal. He’s won pretty much everything, so there wasn’t a better guy really to learn from over there. To have him come over when he didn’t have to after going through a long season and playoffs was really nice.”

Canada won its first seven games, but dropped a 5-4 decision to eventual champ Sweden in the semifinals.

“It was just bad luck. We had a bit of a tough start, but for the rest of the game we played well,” Crosby said. “In the second and third we deserved to win, but we had a couple pucks go off our own guys and we had a little trouble finishing late in the game.”

Then, Finland blanked Canada, 5-0, to claim the bronze medal.

“It’s a one game [situation] and anything could happen, but it was still a good experience nonetheless,” Crosby said. “I was hoping we’d get a medal so I could come back and have some bragging rights on Malone and Hilby and guys like that.”

Crosby was one of seven Penguins to participate in the tournament. He joined Ryan Malone, Andy Hilbert and Brooks Orpik (Team USA), Tomas Surovy (Slovakia), Jani Rita (Finland) and prospect Evgeni Malkin (Russia) from the organization to participate in the tournament.

Crosby was glad to extend his season and believes the high level of competition only enhanced his skills.

“It’s tough to be done with the [NHL] season that early. It’s never fun. I had never really experienced being off that early, so it was great to get more hockey in,” he said. “It was a great level of hockey and I think I am probably better for it. Hopefully, I can use that experience to make myself better.”

 

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