St. Petersburg Times
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Sarich keeps eye on youngsters

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Cory Sarich has a soft spot for the Canadian Junior team that faces Russia tonight in the World Championships final. The Lightning defenseman played for the 1997 team, the last from Canada to win the title.

"I like this team," he said Saturday. "It reminds me of our team in '97. We had a couple of lines that just grinded everybody and hit everything that moved, and guys who could put the puck in the net, too."

Sarich and center Brad Richards will watch on television. "It's one of the best tournaments in the world to watch," said Richards, who played for Canada in 2000. "I'm as much of a fan as anyone else in Canada."

Sarich said he is more interested in individual players.

"I'm not really emotionally attached to the whole tournament," he said. "I get excited for the guys."

But he likes the friendly competition with teammates. Asked if he jabs Russian goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, Sarich said, "Not so much. He doesn't get as worked up."

Khabibulin led the Commonwealth of Independent States to the 1992 title.

"It was awesome," Khabibulin said. "You have to do it to feel what it's like. You really can't explain it."

MINOR INCONVENIENCE: General manager Jay Feaster said he prefers rookie center Alexander Svitov be with Tampa Bay instead of AHL Springfield. But with the determination that the team, because of all the bumps and bruises, needed a seventh defenseman for the trip to Calgary and St. Louis, roster room had to be cleared.

Feaster said Svitov needs to play, and he can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. "We're not going to bury him there," Feaster said. "We're not going to lose him. I envision him there for a couple of weeks so he gets six or seven games under his belt, and we'll bring him back here."

Svitov has struggled offensively with two goals and two assists in 25 games and has not gotten off the fourth line, averaging 7:13 of ice time.

"In a perfect situation, we'd like to have him here," Feaster said. "But having him play is good, too."

ICE CHIPS: Because the circus has been at the St. Pete Times Forum, the ice must be remade for Tuesday's game against the Red Wings. Given the usual state of the ice at the arena, Richards said he is not concerned.

"I don't think it's going to get much worse," he said. "So it's not anything we're going to worry about." ODDS AND ENDS: Defenseman Brad Lukowich strained his neck Saturday and is day to day. ... Right wing Ben Clymer (groin) is expected to practice Monday and be ready for the Red Wings. ... Right wing Jimmie Olvestad and defenseman Darren Rumble were scratched.


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