Canada wins first WJHC gold since 1997
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (CP) – The Canadian junior men’s hockey team put on a dominating display to win the gold medal at the world junior championship Tuesday with a 6-1 win over Russia.
After finishing a heartbreaking second the last three years in this tournament, Canada left nothing in doubt by scoring four times in the second period for a five-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
The sellout crowd of 11,862 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena – the majority of them Canadian – began singing goodbye to the Russian team midway through the third period.
They erupted at the final buzzer as the Canadian players mobbed goaltender Jeff Glass, hugging each other after throwing their sticks and gloves in the air while Queen’s classic song We Are The Champions blared.
IIHF president Rene Fasel and Wayne Gretzky then presented captain Michael Richards with the championship trophy. Richards promptly skated it over to his teammates, who took turns thrusting it in the air.
Gretzky handed out the gold medals before players linked arms and sang O Canada in a tradition that began in 1982, when the Canadian team won in Minnesota, but had to sing the national anthem when it went missing.
”I’m so happy for the kids,” coach Brent Sutter told TSN. ”They played a hell of a tournament right from the get go.”
Russia had no answer for a Canadian defence that gave up only 19 shots on Glass.
It was the first world junior title for Canada since 1997, when the country capped a run of five straight gold medals.
Canada scored three power-play goals and its penalty killers held the vaunted Russian power-play to one lone goal in the first period.
The Canadian team played with controlled emotion and relentless determination.
Ryan Getzlaf, Danny Syvret, Jeff Carter, Patrice Bergeron, Anthony Stewart and Dion Phaneuf scored for Canada, which lost the 2002 and 2003 championship games to Russia.
”It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Carter told TSN. ”This is what we were going for and we got it now.”
Getzlaf, who was a standout in the game for Canada, and Andrew Ladd each had two assists.
”It’s amazing,” Getzlaf told TSN. ”We were the team on the other side last year. This is our time now.”
Bergeron was named tournament MVP while Phaneuf was chosen the top defenceman. Both were named to the all-star team, too, along with Carter.
Russian defenceman Alexei Emelin scored a power-play goal for Russia in the first period.
Star Alexander Ovechkin was used sparingly in the second period and at the start of the third period, he was out of his skates and in his track pants on the Russian bench because of a right shoulder injury.
Canada put the game away in the second period with four unanswered goals – two of them on the power play – and chased Russian goaltender Anton Khudobin at 3:33 after the Minnesota Wild draft pick gave up three goals on 15 shots. He was replaced by Andrei Kuznetsov.
Phaneuf’s shot from the blue-line beat Kuznetsov’s outstretched glove at 13:19 to make it 6-1 for Canada. Stewart tipped in a Nigel Dawes pass at 8:54.
Kuznetsov gave up a long rebound on a Sidney Crosby blast and Corey Perry chipped it over to Bergeron who had an open net at 7:53.
Carter whipped a sharp-angled shot from the boards by Khudobin to spark Canada’s outburst and send the Russian goaltender to the bench.
Canadian goaltender Jeff Glass didn’t face a lot of shots again behind a formidable defence, but he did make a glove same from close range on Enver Lisin after Carter’s goal.
Canada had a five-minute man advantage late in the second period after Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Dimitri Vorobiev put his stick in Dawes’ face and was given a major and a game misconduct.
Emelin pulled Russia within a goal before the first period expired. His shot through traffic with 32 seconds remaining gave Russia a power-play goal.
Canada had taken a 2-0 lead on Syvret’s power-play goal at eight minutes. Braydon Coburn’s shot on net hit the end boards and Syvret collected it and banked it off Anton Khudobin.
Getzlaf scored 51 seconds into the game when he took a Carter drop pass and blasted it by Khudobin.
Canada killed off a 1:12 worth of a two-man Russian advantage early in the first period after Perry took an interference minor and Shea Weber hauled down Evgeni Malkin for a tripping penalty.
This Canadian junior team was the country’s best in a long time and arguably the best ever. The NHL lockout combined with spike in talent in Canadian players born in 1985 made the 2005 team a formidable one. Players who might not have otherwise been available to the Canadian team from their NHL clubs were still playing in the junior ranks.
The closest team in depth and talent to this one may have been the team in 1995 – the last time there was an NHL labour disruption – and Canada dominated that tournament in Red Deer, Alta.
Canada outscored the opposition 32-5 during the round-robin portion of this tournament to finish first in Pool B. A 3-1 semifinal win over the Czech Republic, in which Glass faced only 11 shots and fewer quality scoring chances, sent Canada to the final of this tournament for the fourth straight year.
While the team’s road to the final looked easy on paper, it wasn’t without adversity as defence Cam Barker was sent home after three games with mononucleosis, forward Jeremy Colliton was able to play just over one period with a knee injury and defenceman Brent Seabrook played through a shoulder injury he suffered on the first day of selection camp.
Sutter, a Stanley Cup winner during his 18-year NHL career and a former international player for Canada, guided the team with a firm, but intelligent hand.
This was Canada’s oldest team at the world juniors and with a record number of returning players from last year’s tournament in Helsinki, they knew the drill and what was at stake.
A dozen players on this squad played for Canada last year and suffered the disappointment of wasting a two-goal lead in the third period. The U.S. scored three times in the period to win 4-3.
Attendance at the 2005 tournament was 195,771, which fell short of the record set by Halifax in 2003 at 242,173. The hundreds of Canadians who made the trek to Grand Forks, two hours south of the Manitoba border, swelled the number of spectators in the stands.
Tuesday’s gold-medal game was as close to a home game for the Canadian team as it could be without actually being in the country.
The 2006 world junior hockey championship will be held in Vancouver, Kamloops and Kelowna, B.C.
Canada wins first WJHC gold since 1997