Eberle claims he was 'just the lucky one'
Oilers prospect will always be known for game-tying goal in world junior semi
By Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
January 31, 2009
Oilers' first-round draft pick Jordan Eberle, who plays for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, met the Edmonton media Friday at Rexall Place.Photograph by: Chris Schwarz, the Journal, The Edmonton JournalIn every young hockey player's memory bank, there's always one deposit that sticks with them.
But Jordan Eberle's was much bigger than most.
Just before said bank closed in the world junior championship three weeks ago, Eberle lifted that backhand past the Russian goalie to save Canada's bacon.
If the Edmonton Oilers' first-round draft pick in 2008 never does anything else as dramatic as a pro -- unlikely considering his ability to produce offence and the Oilers' obvious need for one-shot scorers -- the Regina Pats winger will always be known for his game-tying goal with 5.4 seconds remaining in the world junior semifinal.
Eberle, who ironically will be trying to keep the Oilers-owned Oil Kings out of the last playoff spot in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Division when the junior teams meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Rexall Place, admits he's watched the goal a few times. But he can replay it in his head. He doesn't need the DVD.
"When you're in the moment, you're just trying to throw the puck on net. But when you look back on it, you know so many things right had to happen," said Eberle, pointing out that a Russian player iced the puck with the Canadian net empty, defenceman Ryan Ellis beat two players along the wall to keep the puck in the Russian zone, John Tavares threw the puck to the net, and Cody Hodgson lifted a Russian player's stick and the puck went directly to Eberle.
"I was just the lucky one," said Eberle.
Why didn't Eberle just shovel the puck into the goalie's pads with the clock winding down, like most young players would have done in desperation? "I, uh, don't know," he said.
Probably because he's a scorer.
"It's funny, but in the moment you're not thinking so much. It's all adrenalin. The goalie went down and I just (instinctively) went to the backhand," he added.
Eberle also scored in the shootout, but with a shot. Combined with Tavares's shootout goal, it gave Canada the win after a scoreless overtime period.
"We'd worked with our goalie coach before the game and gone over the goalie's tendencies," said Eberle, who knew the Russian liked to go down on a fake.
"Johnny and I had our moves picked before the second intermission, actually. We'd talked about it," he said about the possibility of a shootout.
Eberle admits he wasn't feeling a crushing pressure to score in the shootout, not after he'd raised the roof with his goal late in the third period.
In Regina, they were showing the Russia-Canada thriller on the big screen during a Pats' game, as it turned out. When he got back, in person, he predictably faced a wave of media.
"I live with my grandparents and my grandpa walked out with a snowshovel trying to shoo them away," joked Eberle.
"We're all proud of the way he conducted himself," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, who got an eyeful of Eberle during training camp and liked him, instantly.
Eberle just has to get stronger to play in the NHL.
"He's got this ability to get open ... he's always moving, he's got great anticipation," MacTavish continued. "Mike Comrie was good around the net, too, and Jordan also has a sense of where the puck's going to be and doesn't need many chances to score." While Eberle's trying to come down from his world junior high, his Pats are in a major low. They've lost eight of their last 12 games. It's not a happy ship right now.
Defenceman Colten Teubert, the Los Angeles Kings' first-round '08 draft pick who was also at the world junior championship on Canada's blue-line, has to be more of a leader, sources say.
Eberle has another year of junior eligibility after this season if he can't crack the Oilers next year. But Edmonton could use some of his world junior heroics.
He got cheered by the Oilers crowd when he was introduced at Friday's game with the Minnesota Wild, but he may get booed by the Oil Kings' supporters tonight.
"That's OK ... we're battling with them for the playoffs," said Eberle. "We need every point we can get now."
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