Canada rolled over their opponents the Czechs on January 3rd semi-final game. They won 7-1 and physically outplayed the Czech team. “We played Canadian style,” said Maxime Talbot after the game.
“The next game will be the most important of my life,” stated Talbot. His teammate and captain Daniel Paille said, “We are ready.” Canadian coach Mario Durocher said he already has a silver medal – earned last year — and he now wants the gold.
“We play a different hockey style in our country than the one played in North America so it was difficult tonight for some players of our team,” admitted Czech Jiri Hudler after the game. “The Canadians are better and deserve to win all. They probably have a better team than last year,” added Hudler who faced Team Canada in Nova Scotia.
In the second semi-final game of this year WJC, USA won 2-1 against the home Finns. In the Helsinki Arena, the atmosphere was simply fantastic, fans cheering loudly for their team.
Both U.S. and Finnish teams offered a spectacle of a rare intensity. There were more hits in each of the three periods than we are used to seeing in most of the entire NHL games. Goalies Montoya and Toivonen were both remarkable. At last, Finns missed too many chances and USA resisted in the last minute to an ultimate effort given by their opponents who tried to tie the game.
After the game, Zach Parise said since the defeat of his team in semi-final against Canada last year, he wished this rematch.
U.S. player Brady Murray could win the gold medal for U.S. though his father already won one for Canada. Brady was born in Brandon, Manitoba, son of Los Angeles Kings coach Andy Murray. Brady’s father was the coach of the Senior Team Canada who won the gold medal at the 2003 World Championship in Finland.
Sidney Crosby will face his old buddy Zach Parise in the final game. “When Sidney played last year for Shattuck-St-Mary’s School in Faribault Minnesota, he often spent weekends at our home,” said Jean Paul Parise, a former member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series edition.
“Both Zach and Sidney were very good friends,” added J.P. who now acts as the Hockey Director for Shattuck-St-Mary’s. Questioned on that subject a day before the final game between Canada and USA, Sidney Crosby was not in the mood to elaborate on his friendship with Zach Parise.
“We both have respect for each other and both want to win gold for our country,” said Crosby after Team Canada practice on January 4th. “We are both going to play hard in the last game, we are not friends on ice,” he added.
J.P. Parise told us he was very proud of the program of his school. “There are five players in the final game that were developed in my school – my son Zach, Sidney Crosby, Drew Stafford, Patrick Eaves and Brady Murray,” said Mr Parise after the semi-final win of USA Team.
The last time Canada won the gold medal, it was in 1997 in Switzerland when they beat USA in the final game. That was the only time USA ever played the ultimate game of the WJC.
Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002. At the 2003 WJC, he collaborated for the Montreal newspaper La Presse. This year, he is collaborating with Radio-Canada.