Canada wins third gold in a row

By Simon Richard

Team Canada scored three goals in 147 seconds in the first period en route to a 4-2 win over Russia in the gold medal game in Leksand, Sweden at the 2007 World Junior Championships. In doing so, the Canadians won their third straight Under-20 gold medal.

The Canadians got help from their forwards, but once again the key player was Carey Price (MTL) who was outstanding at the right times.

Another key player for Canada was Jonathan Toews (CHI), who was named the best player for his team. Pavel Valentenko (MTL) earned the award for Russia.

Credit must be given to Team Russia who didn’t give up and came back from a 4-0 score. In the third period, they outshot Canada 10-3.

Canada explodes

As soon as the game started, the players of both teams showed a lot of intensity. In the stands, the crowd, composed largely of Canadians fans, cheered loudly. The drum in the stands behind the Russian net rolled hard and gave the beat to the cheering.

In the seventh minute, during a penalty to Gennady Churilov, Sam Gagner (2007) missed an open net while he could not get to the loose puck close to the goal crease.

Two minutes later, Price was brilliant in a dangerous shot from the slot by an opponent.

In the first 15 minutes of the period, Semen Varlamov (WSH) was tested a few times but kept the Canadians off the scoreboard.

But Varlamov could do nothing at 15:35 on a shot from Andrew Cogliano (EDM) who received a pass from Ryan O’Marra (NYI). Marc Staal (NYR) had started the play close to the red line and set O’Marra. The Canadian fans cheered so loudly that it seemed the game was played in Canada.

Less than two minutes later, Bryan Little (ATL) increased the Canadian lead to two goals on a power-play situation. Little used a backhand shot from the dangerous zone. Varlamov saw nothing on the play. Kristopher Letang (PIT) set up the play from the blue line.

The Russians were shaken, to say the least. But the nightmare was not over for them.

Twenty seconds later, Valentenko took a bad penalty for high sticking. Jonathan Toews (CHI) scored on a high wrist shot (his preferred one) on a play set by Steve Downie (PHI). Cody Franson (NSH) also assisted on the play.

The period ended on this score. It was only the first period, but the game was virtually over.

Early in the second period, the Russians had two opportunities to get back in the game with two power plays, but they couldn’t organize any sort of threat. Ten seconds after the second penalty has ended, Brad Marchand (BOS) deflected a superb pass from Toews for a goal. That put the score at 4-0. Just before Toews received the puck, Valentenko made a huge hit on Downie that almost sent him off the ice.

At 11:21, Valentenko broke the shutout for Russia with a wrist shot from the point on a power play.

In the 16th minute, Price simply stole a goal from an opponent who had an open net on a Russian power play.

Before the period ended, Churilov scored from a difficult angle from a pass from Alexander Loginov on the power play.

In the third period, while Russians were down two men, Anton Krysanov (PHX) had a clear breakaway from the blue line. But once again, Price was there. In the eighth minute of the third, Russia threatened the Canadians on a power play, but Price stopped a dangerous point shot.

The Russians then had three power plays but could not get a point.

“We worked very hard tonight, we wanted to play our game, we did it,” commented Letang after the game. “I do not realize it yet,” he added, referring to the gold.

The Canadian assistant coach Clement Jodoin pointed out that Canada won because of the excellent work of Price. “But our defensive corps made a huge work all the tournament long and tonight, our forwards also contributed.”

Head Coach Craig Hartsburg was with Team Canada in the Canada Cup in 1981 and 1987, the one that ended on the famous goal by Mario Lemieux. “It is a different feeling than in 1987,” he said, “this one is with and for the kids, it’s quite special.”

USA wins the bronze

In the bronze medal game, played earlier, USA won defeated Sweden 2-1. Pat Kane (2007) and Erik Johnson (STL) scored for USA. Patrick Zackrisson scored for Sweden.

Kane and E. Johnson had a tremendous tournament for USA.

“We feel a lot better now with that bronze medal,” commented Erik Johnson after the game. “We didn’t have a good start, we lost a pretty tight game against Canada, we were down then but we came back today and it is a relief to bring back home the bronze.”

“The shootout is correct, in my opinion, during the regular seasons of the NHL, but it should not be used in a deciding game of the WJC,” stated Johnson.

“I will now go back to the University of Minnesota and see at the end of the season what I’m going to do next year. If the Blues offer me a contract, sure, I will look at it.”

The Media All-Star Team:

Carey Prince, Erik Johnson, Kristopher Letang, Alexey Cherepanov and Patrick Kane

The Directorate Best Player Awards are:

Carey Price (Best goaltender), Erik Johnson (Best defenseman) and Alexey Cherepanov (Best forward).

– There are 441,307 junior players registered in Canada compared to 52,171 in Russia.

– Russia and Canada met 30 times in past WJCs. Canada leads with 17 wins, 11 losses and 2 ties.

– This is the sixth year in a row in which Canada made the gold medal game.

– Before the game, Price led the tournament with a .967 save percentage. Varlamov was second with .953.

– This is the third year in a row, and the fifth time in the last six years, that Canada and Russia met in the final WJC game.

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.