The NHL’s loss was Red Deer’s gain in 1995, as the NHL lockout meant that all of Canada’s top Junior-aged players would be in Alberta, and Canada would ice one of its best teams ever at the IIHF World Junior Championship.
Players such as Ryan Smyth, Alexandre Daigle, Jason Allison, Todd Harvey and Jeff Friesen would all have been NHLers during the 1994-95 season, but without a league to play in, they found themselves back in Junior, and on Canada’s roster as it looked for a third consecutive gold medal.
Canada rolled in their first three games, outscoring the Ukraine, Germany and the USA 24-5 on their way to three convincing wins, before getting a scare from the Czech Republic in game number four.
Trailing 5-4 with less than five minutes to go, the Canadians got goals from a pair of defensemen – Wade Redden at 15:51 and Jamie Rivers at 17:36 – to take the lead, and Friesen wrapped up a tight 7-5 win with an empty-net goal with 31 seconds to go and the Czechs on the powerplay.
A New Year’s Day win over Finland left the Canadians at 5-0 and started talk of a perfect 7-0 tournament, something no Canadian team had ever done. But the Canadians still had two games to go, and they were against two of the other top teams in the tournament – Russia and Sweden.
The game against the Russians proved to be yet another back-and-forth classic between the two countries, adding another chapter to an already passionate rivalry.
The Russians scored first, but Allison scored just 41 seconds later, and Eric Daze gave Canada a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Daze’s second of the game pushed the lead to 3-1, but this time it was Russia’s turn to comeback, scoring twice before the middle frame was halfway done to pull even at 3-3.
Rivers and Daze, with his hat trick marker, gave Canada a 5-3 lead heading to the final 20 minutes, where the hosts would put away the game with a little bit of history.
Harvey got the Canadians started with a powerplay goal at 2:29 of the third period, followed by Jeff O’Neill at 2:48 and Marty Murray at 3:07, both on the powerplay as well, setting a pair of Canadian World Junior records – fastest two powerplay goals (19 seconds – twice) and fastest three powerplay goals (38 seconds). The Russians scored a pair to round out the scoring in an 8-5 Canadian win, setting up more history against the Swedes.
Harvey, Allison and Denis Pederson scored in the opening 13 minutes of the game and Daze scored the eventual game-winner eight seconds into the final period – a Canadian record for fastest goal from the start of a period – as Canada held off a late Swedish charge for a 4-3, completing what was, at the time, the most dominant run ever by a Canadian team at an IIHF World Junior Championship.
Bryan McCabe was named the tournament’s Top Defenseman, while Murray picked up the Top Forward award, as he tied with Allison for the team, and tournament, lead in scoring with 15 points in seven games. The Canadians took four of the six spots on the Tournament All-Star Team, sweeping with forward positions, with Murray, Allison and Daze earning the spots, joined by McCabe on the blueline.
GOLD – Canada
SILVER – Russia
BRONZE – Sweden
IIHF DIRECTORATE AWARDS:
TOP FORWARD: Marty Murray (CAN)
TOP DEFENSEMAN: Bryan McCabe (CAN)
TOP GOALTENDER: Yevgeny Tarasov (RUS)
TOURNAMENT ALL-STAR TEAM:
G Igor Karpenko (UKR)
D Bryan McCabe (CAN)
D Anders Eriksson (SWE)
F Jason Allison (CAN)
F Eric Daze (CAN)
F Marty Murray (CAN)