Golden Troika – Canada wins third-straight gold!
LEKSAND, Sweden (CP) – Canada won a third straight world junior hockey championship and its first in Europe in a decade with a 4-2 win over Russia on Friday.
After taking the title in Vancouver last year and in Grand Forks, N.D., in 2005, the challenge for this Canadian squad was to win it outside North America. The country hadn’t done so since 1997 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“It’s unbelievable, a great feeling,” Canadian forward Jonathan Toews said. “Tonight was a battle from start to finish. The Russians are a great team but we came out hard and finished hard, too.”
Canadian defenceman Marc Staal also won gold in Vancouver but said this year’s victory is a “totally different feeling.”
“Winning in Europe is unbelievable,” he said. “From the start (of the tournament) we just kept it simple. We clogged up the middle, teams got frustrated and turned it over.”
Defenceman Kris Russell also won his second straight gold.
“Both are special and both are unique but to win it over here where Canada hasn’t won in 10 years is quite a feat,” he said.
Canada rode its excellent goaltending, defencemen and special teams to the final and the only question mark then was whether the team could produce enough goals at even-strength against the skilled and speedy Russians.
“The guys that we knew could score came through for us tonight,” said Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg.
The Canadians were snakebitten in their semifinal against the U.S. and won that game 2-1 via a shootout.
But University of Michigan forward Andrew Cogliano, Bryan Little of the Barrie Colts and North Dakota forward Toews all scored in a five-minute span starting at 15:35 of the first period, with power-play goals by Little and Toews.
“We got that quick start and it made it easier for me to play,” Canadian goaltender Carey Price said.
Brad Marchand of the Val-d’Or Foreurs gave Canada a 4-0 lead six minutes into the second period, but Pavel Valentenko and Gennadi Churilov scored power-play goals for Russia to cut Canada’s lead in half heading into the third.
Both sides had power-play opportunities in the third period they couldn’t convert. Russia pressed for a goal, but couldn’t solve Price in the third period. Canada also withstood being two men down late in the third after Staal took a penalty for tripping and the Russians pulled their goaltender.
Price was named tournament MVP by the media and chosen best goaltender of the tournament by the International Ice Hockey Federation directorate.
He was the difference in Canada even getting to the final with his outstanding performance in overtime and in the shootout of the semifinal.
The Montreal Canadiens’ draft pick stopped 25 of 27 shots against Russia and made a key stop on Anton Krysanov, who was breaking in alone short-handed early in the third period.
Russian counterpart Sergei Varlamov, a Washington Capitals draft pick, also made 25 saves.
Canadian captain and defenceman Kristopher Letang and Toews were named to the all-star team.
Hartsburg switched centres heading into the game, putting Toews between Steve Downie and Marchand and moving Cogliano to the second line with Tom Pyatt and Ryan O’Marra.
Cogliano and Little scored their first goals in regulation time in the tournament, after scoring in the shootout against the U.S. in the semifinal.
Andrei Kiryukhin dropped the puck down to Churilov at the face-off circle and his sharp-angled shot beat Price with 36 left in the second period.
Valentenko scored Russia’s first goal at 11:27 of the second period. Price couldn’t see the puck behind a couple of Russian bodies and Price was beaten stick-side by Valentenko’s shot from the blue-line.
After helping kill off a second Russian power-play, Toews drove down the left wing and fed a charging Marchand, who shovelled the puck past Varlamov at the six-minute mark of the second period to make it 4-0 for Canada.
Russia opened the second period with a man advantage, during which Andrei Kiryukhin’s blast from the blue-line squeaked between Price’s pads and slid towards the goal-line. Russell stepped in to clear the puck.
Downie of the Peterborough Petes collected a rebound and sent the puck over to Toews at the hashmarks, where Toews whipped the puck high over Varlamov’s stick to make it 3-0 with a power-play goal at 18:02 of the first period.
Little backhanded a rebound on a Letang shot over Varlamov’s stick at 17:29.
Ryan O’Marra of the Saginaw Spirit cruised through the slot and dished the puck to an unchecked Cogliano, who fired the puck past Varlamov’s glove at 15:35.
James Neal of the Plymouth Whalers dealt Igor Musatov a hard check at centre ice early in the first period.
Price dropped his pads and stopped a streaking Igor Makarov coming down the middle just less than three minutes into the game.
About 300 fans were among the announced crowd of 5,223 at Ejendals Arena to cheer on the defending champions.
A large group of them in the standing section of rink began chanting “We want gold” 10 minutes before the puck dropped and “You’ve got nothing” when Canada took a 4-0 lead.
They were joined by several Swedes, including a Swedish drummer, because the Canadians had cheered for their country in a 2-1 loss to the U.S. in the bronze-medal game earlier.
Following the game, the arena announcer specifically thanked the Canadian fans who were in Sweden for their enthusiasm throughout the tournament.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper watched the game from Ottawa. During a brief phone with Hartsburg carried live on TSN, he said the team had made all of Canada proud.
“You had the whole country cheering for you,” said Harper. “I think everybody has taken an early weekend to watch the game.”
Notes: The 2008 world junior hockey championship will be held in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic … Canada will have five players eligible to return for the 2008 tournament: defenceman Karl Alzner, goaltender Leland Irving and forwards Sam Gagner, Brad Marchand and Jonathan Toews … Belarus and Germany were relegated back down to the B world championship, while Denmark and Kazakhstan earned promotion to the A tournament in the Czech Republic.
LEKSAND, Sweden (CP) — World junior hockey championship gold-medal game Friday:
1. Canada, Cogliano 1 (O’Marra, Pyatt) 15:35
2. Canada, Little 1 (Letang) 17:29 (pp)
3. Canada, Toews 4 (Downie, Franson) 18:02 (pp)
Penalties — Churilov Rus (slashing) 7:00, Anisimov Rus (holding) 16:47, Valetenko Rus (high-sticking) 17:47, Helm Cda (boarding) 19:02.
4. Canada, Marchand 2 (Toews) 6:00
5. Russia, Valentenko 2 11:27 (pp)
6. Russia, Churilov 2 (Loginov) 19:24 (pp)
Penalties — Downie Cda (roughing) Anikeyenko Rus (charging) 2:42, Staal Cda (high-sticking) 3:43, Alzner Cda (holding) 11:21, Toews Cda (hooking) Kucheryavenko Rus (unsportsmanlike conduct) 12:11, Toews Cda (hooking) 15:09, Letang Cda (roughing) Glovatsky Rus (roughing) 15:09, O’Marra Cda (high-sticking) 19:03.
Penalties — Ryasensky Rus (interference) 2:33, Bumagin Rus (hooking) 2:50, Helm Cda (hooking) 7:34, Little Cda (checking to the head, misconduct, minor served by Marchand) 11:23, Staal Cda (tripping) 18:12.
Shots on goal by
Canada 15 11 3–29
Russia 7 10 10–27
Goal (shots-saves) — Canada, Price (W, 6-0); Russia, Varlamov (L, 5-1)
Power plays (goals-chances) — Canada 2-5; Russia 2-8.
Referee — Danny Kurmann (Switzerland); Linesmen — Milan Novak (Slovakia), Fredrik Ulriksson (Sweden).
Attendance — 5,223 (7,650).
Golden Troika – Canada wins third-straight gold!