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Canadian Press
Jan 5, 2007, 12:34 PM EST

TORONTO (CP) - Hockey fans are trying to finish work early and sports bars are expecting packed crowds for the gold medal game at the world junior hockey championships in Sweden.

In Toronto, sports bars were opening their doors early so fans could grab a beer and watch the game on a big screen at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Donna Rowan, manager at the Loose Moose, said the bar opened four hours earlier than normal for the puck drop and she expects every bar stool and table to be taken.

In Cole Harbour, N.S., Matt Clitheroe of the Big Leagues Sports Bar says Canada's semifinal shootout victory over the United States nearly blew the roof off, and he knows fans are even more excited for the final against Russia.

The bar has six huge TVs, a 142-inch projection screen and 12 speakers pumping out surround sound, and Clitheroe expects the intensity of his bar patrons will rival the fans in the stands.

Canada is chasing a third straight gold medal after victories in Vancouver last year and Grand Forks, N.D., in 2005, but the team hasn't won the title on European ice since 1997.

But Canadian fans are expecting another victory and will go nuts if it happens, Clitheroe said.

"The feeling in here when a goal's scored, you feel like you're actually in Sweden," he said.

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