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May 11, 2003 - Draper, Burke, Luongo get top marks on CP's world hockey report card
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Draper, Burke, Luongo get top marks on CP's world hockey report card

By PIERRE LEBRUN -- Canadian Press
 HELSINKI -- A report card look at Team Canada's gold medal winning team from the world hockey championship:

 Forwards

 Kris Draper, Detroit Red Wings, A+: Veteran Cup winner welcomed the challenge of shutting down opposing team's top offensive player and did it with a grin. Sweden's Peter Forsberg had two miserable games against Canada thanks to Draper.

 Dany Heatley, Atlanta Thrashers, A: Led the team with seven goals in nine games, his hat trick in the semifinal win over the Czech Republic showing that he can score in the big games when it really matters.

 Daniel Briere, Buffalo Sabres, A: The biggest surprise on the team, Briere heads back to the NHL knowing he belongs among the world's best forwards, finishing second in team scoring with nine points (4-5) in nine games.

 Steve Reinprecht, Colorado Avalanche, A: Another player, like Briere, who surprised many. The 13th forward added, Reinprecht forced Andy Murray's hand with exceptional play and went from fourth-line centre to the No. 1 unit with Briere and Heatley. He used his speed and quickness to his advantage while also showing a tremendous vision of the ice.

 Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes, A: Fit in nicely on the checking unit with Draper and Kirk Maltby and sacrificed his body on every shift, his work on the forecheck forcing turnovers from opposing defencemen and also chipped in with three goals.

 Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers, A: Fourth-line winger was a menace on his every shift, providing a spark when Canada needed it. Had a goal and an assist in Sunday's game and was a constant pest around the Swedish net. He heads back to Edmonton a more confident player.

 Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers, B+: Canada's captain played with a banged-up shoulder but still made the boards his domain while playing with the kind of courage and determination that characterizes Canadian hockey.

 Kirk Maltby, Detroit Red Wings, B+: A pretty performance for a player who had not once ever played international hockey. The learning curve is usually very steep but the veteran winger was a solid two-way player who along with Draper provided the tournament's best penalty killing.

 Mike Comrie, Edmonton Oilers, B+: Started off strong, tailed off a little in the middle of the tournament, but rose the level of his play in the medal round when it mattered most.

 Anson Carter, New York Rangers, B+: Only scored two goals in the tournament but scored the one the mattered most. Had a so-so tournament before really turning it on in the semifinals and final.

 Kyle Calder, Chicago Blackhawks, B: Struggled in early games but found his legs and his confidence in the medal round. His goal to put Canada ahead 4-3 against the Czechs in the semis was the second-most important one of the tournament.

 Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks, B-: Was dropped to the fourth line before the semifinals after failing to produce offensively while centring Heatley and Briere. But Marleau had his best game of the tournament against the Czechs while playing with Horcoff and Calder, choosing to play harder instead of sulking. Very impressive.

 Krys Kolanos, Phoenix Coyotes, no grade: Not fair to grade him since he didn't get much ice time as the 13th forward. Great backhand pass to Heatley for Canada's fifth goal in semifinals.

 Defence

 Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers, A: Young phenom had a sensational tournament, probably better than what Canadian management thought he was ready for. Led Canadian blue-liners with seven points (3-4) in nine games but more importantly contributed significantly to the transition game with fluid skating out of the zone and pinpoint passing.

 Steve Staios, Edmonton Oilers, A: Hard-hitting veteran made opposing forwards think twice about chasing pucks in the Canadian zone when he was on the ice. Quite frankly, he had a mistake-free tournament.

 Eric Brewer, Edmonton Oilers, B+: He'd be the first to tell you he wasn't as consistent as he would have liked. Still, played a tonne of minutes and was excellent at head-manning the puck.

 Craig Rivet, Montreal Canadiens, B+: The big ice and skilled opposition could have been major hurdles for the physical defenceman but Rivet made great strides as the tournament went along, providing reliable defence and the odd offensive rush.

 Mathieu Dandenault, Detroit Red Wings, B+: Swift-skating blue-liner looked at ease on the big ice and provided some surprising toughness and veteran leadership as a three-time Stanley Cup winner.

 Cory Cross, Edmonton Oilers, B: Had his ups and downs but was a steady performer overall. Injured a knee in gold medal game and didn't return.

 Jamie Heward, Geneva (Swiss League), B: Didn't get much ice time as the No. 7 defenceman but was rock steady when playing a regular shift in the gold medal game when Cross went out. Probably deserves another shot from an NHL team.

 Goaltenders

 Sean Burke, Phoenix Coyotes, A+: He didn't win the biggest game but he got Canada there. His 1.28 GAA and .955 save percentage were only part of the story. The five-time world championship veteran was a rock when his young Canadians needed it most, his cool demeanour and timely saves a huge reason Canada stayed undefeated.

 Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers, A: Responded to the biggest challenge in his young career with 37-save performance in gold medal game.

 Martin Biron, Buffalo Sabres, no grade: Never appeared in a game but his upbeat attitude and humorous demeanour was well-appreciate among his teammates, who thought highly of him for coming over to be the No. 3 goalie despite being a starter in the NHL.