Editor's note: In this series, the Grand Forks Herald's veteran sports staff ranks their top five memorable moments. Herald sports reporter Brad Schlossman continues his list with this No. 4 memorable moment.
The game itself wasn't memorable.
It was a 6-1 shellacking.
But the 2005 World Junior Championship -- especially the Canada-Russia gold-medal game -- was one to remember because it was one of the most stunning collections of hockey talent, and it happened in Grand Forks.
Ralph Engelstad Arena got lucky that year.
It happened to host its World Junior Championship during the NHL lockout season of 2004-05, so everybody eligible played in the World Juniors. Had there been an NHL season going, numerous stars would have been playing there and missed the event.
It also happened to occur on the right birth year for arguably the two greatest hockey talents of this generation -- Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.
They've already combined for five NHL MVP awards and four Stanley Cups. They had to go through each other to win each of those Stanley Cups. Because of them, Pittsburgh and Washington has become one of the NHL's biggest rivalries and one television execs try to highlight as much as possible.
The first time Crosby and Ovechkin ever played against each other was Jan. 5, 2005, in Grand Forks.
It was a forgetful one for Ovechkin. He was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury, while Crosby and Canada ran to a 6-1 victory in the gold-medal game.
It was more than Crosby and Ovechkin, though.
There were four future NHL MVPs on the ice that night -- Crosby (twice) and Corey Perry for Canada, Ovehckin (three times) and Evgeni Malkin for Russia.
There were seven future NHL captains in Crosby, Ovechkin, Andrew Ladd, Shea Weber, Ryan Getzlaf, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Richards, and six future alternate captains in Perry, Malkin, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Brent Seabrook and Alexander Radulov.
Eleven different players in that game have won 21 Stanley Cups -- Ovechkin (Washington 2018), Malkin (Pittsburgh 2009, 2016, 2017), Bergeron (Boston 2011), Crosby (Pittsburgh 2009, 2016, 2017), Getzlaf (Anaheim 2007), Perry (Anaheim 2007), Carter (Los Angeles 2012, 2014), Ladd (Carolina 2006, Chicago 2010), Richards (Los Angeles 2012, 2014), Seabrook (Chicago 2010, 2013, 2015) and Colin Fraser (Chicago 2010, Los Angeles 2012).
That means 12 of the last 14 Stanley Cup-winning teams had someone who played in that game. The only two who didn't were Detroit in 2008 and St. Louis in 2019.
Eight members of Canada's team went on to be part of Canada's 2010 Olympic gold-medal team, including Crosby, who scored the overtime winner.
Canada's talent was so impressive that 20 of 22 players on its roster reached the NHL. The only two who didn't were Stephen Dixon, who is still playing pro in Europe, and backup goalie Rejean Beauchemin.
There were plenty of stars beyond the Canadian and Russian teams, too.
The U.S. roster had NHL alternate captains Ryan Suter, Phil Kessel, Alex Goligoski and UND's Drew Stafford. The Czechs had alternate captain David Krejci and Michael Frolik. The Finns had Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Tuukka Rask.
The stands were full of hockey notables, too, including Wayne Gretzky and virtually every general manager in the league.
Covering the event
As a journalist covering the event, it was memorable, too.
The Ralph turned the Olympic Arena into a large media workroom to accommodate the worldwide contingent. Because of the NHL lockout, hockey journalists from all over converged on Grand Forks.
The first week of the tournament, however, I spent mostly in Thief River Falls, where virtually none of the media members ventured.
There was such a remarkable contrast between Grand Forks and Thief River Falls.
In Grand Forks, there was an onslaught of reporters waiting for players as they entered the "mixed zone" for interviews after games. It was a battle to get into position for interviews.
In Thief River Falls, officials told me when I arrived that there's not much room downstairs to do interviews, so they would bring players up to the press box. Since I was the only media member there, I would request players after the game, then sit and work on my story until they came up.
Russia played there three times. So, Ovechkin got used to the drill. He would grab a postgame snack, come up to the press box, pull out the empty chair next to me and we'd sit there together and chat about the game. His postgame interviews have changed since then.
Looking back on the whole event, considering what's become of the players, it's a bit surreal that it happened in Grand Forks.
Herald Top 5 Lists
4. World Juniors brought a stunning collection of talent to Grand Forks