Canada has added another gold medal to its national vault of hockey hardware, this time from the 2003
World Championships courtesy of an Anson Carter goal at 13:49 of the 4-on-4 overtime that had to be decided
by a lengthy video review. It was the 18th gold medal for Canada in World Championships play since 1930.
Final score, Canada 3, Sweden 2.
Referee Vladimir Sindler, who had done an impeccable job of officiating all night, had no choice but to
review the overtime play which began with Carter skating down the right wing and blasting a shot at goalie
Mikael Tellqvist. The goalie got a glove on the puck, but it fell to the side of the net and Carter picked up
his own rebound, wheeled around the far side, and wrapped the puck around and in between Tellqvist's right
pad and the goalpost.
Carter raised his arms in celebration and the Canadian bench emptied, but the goal light didn't go on and
Sindler was in no position to make such a close and important call. He blew play dead and went to the penalty
box to confer with the video goal judge, and after about seven or eight minutes Sindler pointed to centre
ice, triggering a massive Canadian celebration while the Swedes looked confused and upset. Nevertheless, the
video evidence was incontrovertible, and one angle in particular showed the puck clearly crossing the line.
Sindler followed the rules impeccably, and he made the right call in the right manner.
Canada's win was delayed, but it was fair and deserving.
To their full credit, Tre Kronor was sporting in defeat after a game that had been at times extraordinary,
particularly the overtime which was heart-stopping for every second of the nearly 14 minutes of play. The
game had got to the fourth period thanks to Shane Doan and Shawn Horcoff who combined for a perfect play deep
in the Swedish end midway through the third period.
Horcoff got the puck behind the net—Wayne Gretzky's office, as it were—and waited patiently for Doan to
get free to Tellqvist's left. He fired a lovely pass to Doan who buried the shot high to the short side at
9:03 of the third period. The rest of regulation was taught and sometimes wide open. P-J Axelsson had a
magnificent shot in front that was gloved by Roberto Luongo, and a few minutes later the Canadian goalie made
another huge pad save on Niklas Andersson.
Sindler pocketed his whistle and ignored some minor infractions, letting the players compete and decide
the game. The most incredible moments of the last half of the period started when Mats Sundin had a breakaway
down the right side, but as he cut in on Luongo and tried to put the puck along the ice to the far side, he
lost control of the puck and it slid wide as 13,387 fans gasped, some in horror, some in glee.
As the puck went to the corner, a Canadian defenceman threw the puck up the middle to a breaking Doan, who
had a breakaway of his own. He was stopped by Tellqvist. Then Peter Forsberg had control of the puck in the
Canadian end for nearly 45 seconds as the period came to a close, and regulation time ended with what was
unquestionably the most dramatic few minutes of this year's championship.
But, folks, the best was yet to come! Overtime. Four-on-four. It was as spectacular a stretch of hockey as
you'll see in international competition. Players on both teams took shifts that lasted 20-30 seconds, and
loss of possession by one team meant a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 the other way. Steve Reinprecht had a great chance
for Canada early on, but Peter Nordstrom came right back and tested Luongo. Nordstrom had another great
chance with a slapshot a few minutes later, and Carter also had a great opportunity barrelling down the right
wing in a similar manner to the way in which he would score several minutes later.
The game started out decidedly in the Swedes' favour. They had control of play while the Canadians seemed
tentative and nervous for most of the first period, in great measure because of the Swedish strategy of
getting on the Canadian defencemen and pressuring the puck carrier. The less time the Canadian players had to
think, the greater the turnovers Tre Kronor produced. The Swedes were rewarded midway through the period when
Henrik Zetterberg made a fine rush down the right side off a turnover in the Canadian end. Luongo made the
save as Zetterberg went to the net, but Mathias Tjarnqvist popped in the rebound to give the Swedes an
important 1-0 lead at 10:17.
Less than two minutes later, Canada had a power play, but it was Sundin and Axelsson who had the best
scoring chance, Axelsson shooting just wide on a perfect pass from Sundin. The Swedes continued to dominate,
and Peter Forsberg simply could not be knocked off the puck. Yet, to the credit of Kris Draper and Kirk
Maltby, the Canadian duo assigned to Foppa all night, the Forsberg line was held off the scoresheet despite
its many and quality scoring opportunities.
Late in the period, the Swedes opened a huge 2-0 lead when Mikael Renberg fired a long bullet pass up the
middle from one blueline to the other to Axelsson who beat Luongo between the legs on the breakaway. The
turning point, though, came less than a minute later when Canada struck back. First Craig Rivet missed a
great chance to score when he shot wide, but moments later Horcoff scooped a loose puck to the side of the
net with Tellqvist down and swiped it into the open side. That brought the score 2-1 Sweden at 19:17, a goal
that was crucial to giving Canada an emotional life before the end of the period.
It was a mini-comeback reminiscent of the semi-finals when the Czechs tied the game 3-3 early in the third
period and then Canada regained the lead—and team confidence--a minute later.
In the second, Canada started out with greater conviction, but the Swedes played flawless defence and
continued to pressure the Canadian man with the puck. Axelsson had another great chance but was bettered by
Luongo's glove, and Forsberg continued to dominate down low. There were fewer scoring chances in the period
which helped Canada because it kept the game close while giving the Canadians reason to believe it was only a
matter of time before they would tie the score.
In the third, the Swedes were less aggressive and gave Canada more ice as they tried to sit on the lead, a
scenario that rarely works. Doan's tying goal midway through the period triggered the wild ending and amazing
overtime which was extended to 20 minutes and reduced to 4-on-4 first the first time by the IIHF. Clearly
this is a format that will be around a while.
At the start of the tournament, who would have thought this Canadian roster would play such flawless
defence and allow but a single power-play goal? And, who would have thought the team would have an unbeaten
record of 8-0-1!? The team won a medal at the World Championships for the first time since 1997, again in
Finland, when it beat Sweden 2-1 in the final game of a best-of-three series. Players from this team who were
there six years ago include Carter, Cory Cross, and the injured Sean Burke, as well as coach Andy Murray.
The victory gives Canada the undisputed championship of world hockey. The country has won consecutive gold
medals in the U-18; it won silver at the U-20 in Halifax in January; it won gold at the 2002 Olympics; and
now this gold at the World Championships. Add to that the fact that Canada is champion of the Spengler Cup
and the Deutschland Cup, and the Canadian women are both 2002 Olympic champions and gold medal winners of all
eight World Championships played.
The Swedes, meanwhile, have to go back to the 1998 World Championships when they won gold to find their
last international hockey medal, but today's game was something the world can be proud of. This was hockey at
its fastest, most skilled, and most dramatic. The true champions are the players and fans who played and
watched. Thank you, Finland. See you in Prague and Ostrava next year.