Canada gets revenge on USA at World Juniors Hockey
Team Canada rolled past defending champions Team USA in a semi-final match-up on Monday at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, NY. This 4 – 1 victory was bittersweet as Canada avenged last year’s gold medal loss to the Americans on home ice.
With the help of thousands of screaming fans, the Canadians might have been playing on foreign soil but felt as if they were right at home. It was clear right from the start which team had more energy and jump to their game as Canada outplayed and dominated in every way.
Kelowna’s very own Curtis Hamilton started things off at just under 3 minutes in as he banged his own rebound for his 4th goal of the tournament past the USA’s Jack Campbell. Canada continued to apply pressure and was rewarded when Quentin Howden scored the 2nd goal at the midway point of the first period. The second period was much of the same as Team USA looked flat and Canada took advantage. This time it was Port Moody’s Ryan Johansen who got the 3 – 0 goal while on a 5 – 3 power play. The icing on the cake in the final frame came when Calvin de Hann hit a streaking Zack Kassian fresh out of the penalty box for a breakaway and a 4 – 0 lead, thus sending the sea of screaming Canucks into a frenzy.
Many had picked the Canada – USA matchup as the possible gold medal game but the Americans did not live up to their hype and they were no match for Canada. Canada fired 41 shots at Campbell who was probably the U.S.A.’s best all night, while the rest of the team struggled to find their game. Canadian net minder Mark Vistenin was named player of the game for Canada, stopping 20 of 21 shots.
Shootout sends Sweden packing
Russia squeaked by the Swedes in the other semi-final action Monday by beating them 4 – 3 in a shootout. Sweden’s Anton Landen hit the post as the final shooter, thus sending the Russians to the Championship game.
This was a seesaw battle that went back and forth, providing fans with no shortage of entertainment. Russia took an early 2 – 0 lead but failed to hold it as the Swedes battled back to tie it by the middle of the final period. The last 3 minutes of regulation saw two more goals as first Sweden and then Russia tallied to send it to overtime. Denis Golubev scored once in regulation and again got the shootout winner for Russia as they now will move on to face Canada in the gold medal game on Wednesday.
A matchup for the ages
Most Canadians are well aware of the bitter hatred between our team and the Russians when it comes to ice hockey at the World Juniors. In case you've never heard of the rivalry, here's the back story:
1982 – World Juniors – The Canadian team beat Russia 7 – 0 in a lopsided affair and would later win their first ever gold at the World Juniors. There was no tape of the national anthem for the gold medal ceremony so the Canadian players provided the vocals for their own rendition on the ice.
1987 – World Juniors – At gold medal game in Czechoslovakia Canada led 4 – 2 in the second, when an incident between Theo Fluery and a Russian player turned in to an all-out bench clearing brawl. It was so bad that both teams were disqualified and the referees had to leave the ice and turn out the lights in order to restore order.
1988 – World Juniors – One year after the two teams were disqualified they returned to face each other in the key matchup in Moscow. Canada beat the Russians 3 – 2 en route to their 3rd title.
1991 – World Juniors – The gold medal game in Saskatoon was tied at 2 late in the 3rd period when John Slaney scored his first goal of the tournament with under a minute to go, making Canada the first team to win the tournament on home ice.
1999 – World Juniors– Current Vancouver Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo stood on his head in the gold medal game and stopped all 37 shots before overtime when the Russians scored to take the prize.