Canada is golden at the World Junior Championship for the first time in six years, but its road to the championship was hardly paved with gold in the final game.
There were speed bumps along the way, a whole bunch of them, but Canada prevailed in the gold medal game by a score of 5-4. But not without first almost imploding after taking a 5-1 lead midway through the second period. In what looked like shades of 2011, Canada allowed the Russians back in the game when the visiting team scored twice in 32 seconds and three times in 3:16 to narrow the gap to 5-4 after two periods. Read more
Before each game, every member of Slovakian’s world junior team would line up and have a moment with goaltender Denis Godla. For what appeared to be an undermanned squad talent-wise, it sometimes seemed like they were paying their last respects. As it turns out, it was more of a pilgrimage.
When Team Canada takes the ice in Toronto Monday night for the gold medal final of the IIHF World Junior Championship, virtually the entire country will be watching. And whether they win or lose, there will be no shortage of Canadian jingoism from start to finish. My fellow countrymen will be told by corporate advertisers, narrow-minded analysts and overzealous fans that hockey is “our” game, that our passion for the sport is what unites us as a nation and what makes us the game’s primary guardians.
Let’s forget the validity of some of those claims for a second, because I want to explore that sense of Canadian pride and unity, and how easily we pick it up and put it down, depending on the moment. I agree that hockey is what links all of Canada together, but why does it only happen for a few weeks each year? Celebrations will erupt across the country if Canada beats Russia to win WJC gold for the first time since 2009, but once the last party fumes evaporate, what will we return to?
If history is any indication, some of us will return to stereotyping regions of Canada to make ourselves feel better about our preferred region of Canada. Read more
You had to feel a little badly for Tom Renney. There was the president of Hockey Canada, sitting there taking bullets for the bad decisions made by other people, decisions he likely wouldn’t have made himself.
Regardless of what happens in tonight’s gold medal game, the 2015 World Junior Championship will go down as an unmitigated disaster when measured against what was expected of it. When Hockey Canada made the decision to have Toronto and Montreal co-host the event in 2015 and 2017, it did so with visions of dollar signs and full arenas in its head. Read more
When Canada faces Russia tonight in the gold medal game for the 2015 World Junior Championship, it will mark one of those few times in this great rivalry that convention is turned on its ear.
Most times when Russia faces Canada in international competition, it comes into the game with a bunch of wildcard players who are mysterious and unknown. That will not be the case tonight. These two teams have all kinds of familiarity with each other, dating back to the 2012 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Windsor, during which the Russians defeated an Ontario team with Darnell Nurse, Max Domi and Nick Ritchie in the semifinal before beating team USA in the final.
With exactly five minutes and 20 seconds remaining in Canada’s 5-1 manhandling of Slovakia Sunday night, Connor McDavid collided at center ice with a Slovak player and fell to the ice. He got up, grabbed both sides of his head, struggled to get back to the bench and didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game.
For the Canadian side, it could have represented a disaster. But there McDavid was after the game answering questions and not even hinting there was anything doubt concerning his status for the gold medal game against Russia Monday night. No quiet room, no concussion, no need for worry.
On paper, Canada should have run roughshod over Slovakia, a team they waxed 8-0 in the round robin. But as the Canucks learned in last year’s semifinal, when they fell unceremoniously to Finland before losing the bronze to Russia, those cliches about taking things one game at a time are spoken for a reason.
Russia will play for gold at the World Junior Championship thanks to a sturdy 4-1 win over Sweden, setting up a classic showdown with Canada on Toronto ice.
Part of the reason the Cold War has never ended in arenas is that there is a certain mystery and awe surrounding the Russians over here. Most of the world junior team still plays on the other side of the world and the KHL’s existence means that some of the better players in Russia never have to come over here.
Because rivalries are fun (and because I can’t write in Cyrillic), here are the five Russians that Canadians will love to hate – and learn to fear – in the gold medal game. To up the rivalry factor, none are plying their trade in North America right now.