MALMO, SWEDEN – Canada has been searching for its identity at the World Junior Hockey Championship and they may have found it: underdogs. Consensus among Canadian players is that they enter Tuesdays first-place showdown with the Americans as the clear underdogs following a shootout loss to the Czech Republic on Saturday and a white-knuckle, come-from-behind win against Slovakia on Monday. "Its probably one of this first times were the underdogs in this and theyre really good," said defenceman Mathew Dumba, loaned to Team Canada by the Minnesota Wild. "Theyre a great team and weve got to be ready for them." "Oh for sure, I think were definitely the underdogs," agreed forward Bo Horvat. "Theyve been playing well all tournament and won all of their games so far. It should be a good test." "I think, maybe, were a little bit of the underdogs," said Jonathan Drouin, Canadas top-line centre. "They won last year, theyre 3-0 so we have to get off to a good start and play our own game and not watch them play.” The message from Canadian players was remarkably consistent. You almost got the sense they were happy to enter the New Years Eve clash considered the weaker team and Nic Petan, who scored the winner in Mondays 5-3 victory over Slovakia, admitted as much. "Yeah, definitely, it makes us work harder," he said. Canada as an underdog in hockey? A rare occurrence, especially at the World Juniors, but considering the sky-high expectations facing these teenagers, who can really blame them for trying to shift the pressure to the Americans? Only 16-year-old Connor McDavid, Canadas youngest player, balked at the idea that his group was an underdog. "I dont know," the Erie Otters sensation said. "I think a lot of people are viewing us the underdogs. Im not necessarily sure thats how we feel. Were confident in our abilities." The defending champion Americans tried to brand themselves as underdogs entering the event. Head coach Don Lucia noted theyd need big-time goaltending from Jon Gillies every night and would rely on a grind-it-out style to win some close, low-scoring games. Of course, the United States promptly cruised through the first three games of the tournament outscoring the Germans, Czechs and Slovaks 19-4. "Were not a star-studded team," insists Lucia. "I think the bottom line is our guys understand what our identity is and keep with that identity." That blue-collar identity that values hard work as much as skill is the same one Canadian head coach Brent Sutter has sought to install with his group. But the Americans, who have had 12 different players score, seem to have had an easier time adapting to the brand. "Anybody who asks about this team I tell them I dont think we really have any superstars," said forward Adam Erne. "Were a group that works really hard and really wants to win and I think thats what it takes in this tournament: different guys every game." DROUIN FACES ERNE FOR FIRST TIME SINCE CONCUSSION Erne is at the heart of this years rivalry game, because of what happened earlier this month in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Erne, who plays for the Quebec Remparts, leveled Halifaxs Drouin with a hit from behind. Drouin sustained the first concussion of his career on the play. Afterwards, Erne suggested the third overall pick in last Junes NHL draft may have made matters worse by trying to draw a penalty on the play and embellishing what happened. "It happened so long ago. Its not a big deal right now. Im not focused on that. Im focused on the upcoming game," said Erne, who reached out to Drouin after the game via text. "Everybody knows that hes a good player and we were drafted by the same team [Tampa Bay] so were going to have to get along so thats just how its going to have to be. Its in the past. It happened. Its hockey so lets move on from there." Erne wasnt suspended for the hit and Drouin refused to comment on that decision. But the 18-year-old said winning on Tuesday would be the best revenge. "Yeah, for sure," Drouin said, "I dont think Im going to go for a cheap-shot on Adam. Its not the Q here. We have to win and its going to be a team game." MCDAVID vs. EICHEL IN 2015 NHL DRAFT PREVIEW Erne against Drouin is not the only juicy subplot in the Canada-USA rivalry these days. Tuesdays game will also feature two of hockeys brightest young stars going head-to-head, specifically: McDavid against American Jack Eichel. Both are expected to go very high in the 2015 NHL draft with the Canadian considered the odds-on favourite to go No. 1. "Yeah, you know, its nice to play against him, but I dont really think about playing against him," said Eichel, a Boston University recruit. "Its not a one-on-one battle were going to be playing in. Its a team game where the United States is going to be playing Team Canada. Im not going to be playing Connor." McDavid echoed that sentiment. "Its not really about me and him. Its about Canada versus the Americans. Thats it. I know hes on the team. Hes a big part of their team. Hes a good player and hell be a big part of the game." McDavid has struggled to make his mark on the tournament. He was benched after taking two penalties against the Czech Republic and started the next game against Slovakia as Canadas 13th forward before earning more ice time in the third period. Eichel, meanwhile, has been a solid presence in the American top-six forward group notching a goal and three assists. "I couldnt believe how young he actually is," said Team USA captain Riley Barber. "Hes a big player, strong and doesnt really look his age." "His all-around game is quick, so fast," said line-mate Ryan Hartman. "Ive been lucky enough to be playing with him the last couple games now. He knows where he is out on the ice and where all the players are at." Gillies, Barber and Hartman are the three returning players on the American roster. Drouin, defenceman Griffin Reinhart and goalie Jake Paterson are the veterans on the Canadian side. Paterson will be Zach Fucales backup on Tuesday while Reinhart will make his 2014 tournament debut after missing the first three games with a suspension. RIVALRY IS SOMETHING SPECIAL Last years semifinal showdown remains very much on the minds of the players. "Its a motivation," said Drouin. "We lost 5-1. It was a hard loss for me. This year, I want to battle back and make sure I dont lose again against the Americans." "It was one of the worst feelings Ive had in hockey for sure," admitted Reinhart. "Whether they played in it or not everyone on both teams was watching," said Hartman. "Everyones going to be riled up and ready to go." Indeed, Canada versus the United States is always an emotional encounter. When you add in all the subplots listed above and the fact the game will decide who wins Group A, well, its easy to get pumped up. "Its something special," said Erne with a smile. "I mean, Ive been watching since I can remember so its going to be a real honour to play in it and Im real excited." "Ive played in a few U.S.-Canada games and theyre always intense," said Eichel. "I know our teams looking forward to it and I imagine they are as well." "Its unbelievable," said McDavid, "especially this New Years Eve game. It has been quite a tradition for the past couple years and I usually never missed watching so it will be a lot of fun for sure." "I expect a lot of compete out of them," said Barber, whos tied for the team lead with three goals. "It should be a really, really fun game to watch." Pat LaFontaine Jersey . According to the CFL Scouting Bureaus January rankings, four of the top five Canadian prospects line-up on the offensive side of the trenches, which is good news for Bombers general manager Kyle Walters. With only one selection in the first two rounds — Walters sent his second-round pick to Saskatchewan in the days ahead of the 2013 trade deadline — the No. Billy Smith Jersey . Helwani said that Weidman has been dealing with recurring swelling and pain in his knees related to torn meniscus he suffered as a teenager and the problems came to a head last week when he suffered prolonged swelling and pain in his left knee, resulting in the decision to undergo an arthroscopic scope procedure to clean up the tear in both knees. http://www.islanderssale.com/ . The Flames announced Monday that Treliving, a former assistant general manager with the Coyotes, will take over the vacant GM spot in Calgary. "Im ready for this,"Treliving said. John Tavares Jersey . Interestingly, the culprits were not rookies, but well paid, experienced pros. The first gaffe came in the 24th minute of arguably the biggest early season MLS game in history between Seattle and Toronto. Sounder newcomer Marco Pappa, (with over 100 MLS games, and 39 Guatemalan Caps to his name) attempted a back pass to one of his central defenders. Mike Bossy Jersey . Wawrinka, who is seeded fourth, is in the top half of the draw with Serbian Novak Djokovic. The Swiss star outlasted Djokovic in a five-set quarterfinal thriller last year and stunned Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the final to capture his first-ever Grand Slam title.Jon Jones saw all the zeros next to Floyd Mayweather Jr.s name. He knows how much money the worlds best boxer made while dominating his opponent last weekend. If Jones does something similar to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 in Toronto this weekend, he realizes the reward for being arguably the worlds top mixed martial artist is only a fraction of Mayweathers $40 million-plus payday. And it doesnt bother the UFC light heavyweight champion at all. "Im grateful to make the money I make," Jones said. "As a 26-year-old, I never would have imagined being in this position. And Im also a person that doesnt believe money is the key to life or happiness." Jones (18-1) is the UFCs main attraction at Air Canada Centre on Saturday when he steps into the octagon with Swedens Gustafsson (15-1), the latest 205-pounder to take a shot at ending Jones 2 1/2-year championship reign. If Jones wins, hell break Tito Ortizs promotion record with his sixth successful title defence. But MMAs probable pound-for-pound champion wont get anything near the jaw-dropping reward given to Mayweather for schooling Saul Alvarez. The financial disparities for the stars of these related sports have been topics of contention for years. But dont look for any indignation from Jones, who also has endorsement deals with Nike and Gatorade. The MMA champion and his two NFL-star brothers grew up on discounted school lunches, and hes willing to be patient with a young sport he picked up just six years ago. "Just being comfortable makes me happy," he said. "I dont need those type of paydays. Would it be nice? It would be great to get paid the way other pro athletes get paid. I believe it will come. Im just going to keep doing my part. ... If somebody is going to pay me over a million dollars to fight, do you think Im going to talk trash about that? No way. Im so happy. I think $40 million, thats like ridiculous, in a good way." UFC 165 also features interim bantamweight titlist Renan Barao, unbeaten in 30 straight fights since his pro debut in 2005, defending his belt against former WEC champ Eddie Wineland. Heavyweights Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione also meet. Just like Canelo, Gustafsson is the most logical challenger to a dominant champion. He has won six straight fights since his only career loss in April 2010, and nobody doubts he deserves the title shot given to him by UFC President Dana White. Although Jones is a heavy favourite to defeat Gustafsson, the challenger is among the few 205-pound contenders who can match Jones impressive frame. At 6-foot-5, Gustafsson is slightly taller than Jones, although the champions 84 1/2-inch wingspan is a bit broader. "Its not always about reach," said Gustafsson, who trains in Stockholm and San Diego. "Its about footwork. Its being ffast, in and out.dddddddddddd Stuff like that. Im really making sure Ive really done my homework here, and Im super motivated." But Jones is confident he can overcome any size similarities with his combination of study and skill. "Im really excited to prove that my size is just a really small part of what makes me, me," Jones said. "If my height was the reason for my dominance, I think half the NBA would be top guys in the UFC. Gustafsson, hes really nothing like me. "What gets me motivated is he hasnt had the life," Jones added. "He wants to be the top dog. A lot of the guys Ive fought before, theyve been there and they didnt appreciate it, and they lost it. Alexander has never been there, so theres a fire that Im sure he has that gets me fired up." Jones, who combs through his opponents interviews for threads to unravel their psyche, also said he found motivation for the fight in a Swedish interview in which Gustafsson called him an immature bully. So dominant for so long, its not surprising Jones has to go looking for new motivations -- and the next one after Gustafsson might be the next weight class. Jones has spent much of this promotion entertaining questions about his eventual move to heavyweight, even as he claims he plans to chase Anderson Silvas all-division record of 10 consecutive title defences. While Jones wont set a date for a move, hes already scoping out UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, saying: "Theres some things I could do athletically that Cain has never seen before." "I want to do what makes the fans happy, and I know the fans want to see me take a heavyweight fight," Jones added. "My biggest goal was just to establish this record at light heavyweight, and once this record is established, the day after the fight, the 22nd, we can start thinking about whats going to be most interesting for the fans to see. "If Dana wants a certain fight that makes sense, after this fight would be the time to offer it to me." And while not even a pay-per-view meeting with Velasquez would be likely to match the Mayweather-Alvarez fights jaw-dropping $150 million in television sales, Jones abides. He thinks MMA is much like himself -- young, hungry and heading toward a lucrative future. "Right after the Mayweather fight, I got so many messages, and they were all the same: Now its time for a real fight," Jones said. "Its official, boxing is over, Mayweather is the only guy that matters left in the sport. After Mayweather, the sport is officially gone. It just seems like the fans are so ready for MMA to be bigger. It seems like in the fans eyes, this is the fight sport. I just think its going to take more time. What weve been able to do in our short history is remarkable." ' ' '