LEKSAND, Sweden –
The Canada-USA rivalry, which blossomed at the pro level in the early-to-mid-1990s, has shifted to the junior and amateur level in the 21st century. Notably, these two geographic rivals have waged several important battles at the U18 and World Junior Championships in recent years, none more dramatic than the 2007 World Junior semi-final, which went into overtime and then a shootout.
The game proved to be a record-breaking one for young Jonathan Toews of Canada. In the first round of the shootout—three shots per team—Toews beat USA goalie Jeffrey Frazee to give Canada a 2-1 lead, but USA defenseman Jack Johnson beat Carey Price on the final shot to send the game to sudden-death. Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg had the option to choose any player from his bench, and he went with Toews again after saves by each goalie. Toews beat Frazee again, but Peter Mueller beat Price to tie the score.
Two more players failed to score, so Hartsburg went to Toews for a third time, and for a third time the 18-year-old scored. Mueller was stopped by Price, and Canada advanced to the gold medal game, where it beat Russia, 4-2 for the country’s third consecutive World Junior gold medal. Toews scored each goal in a different manner: high over the glove, five-hole, and deke, leaving Frazee frustrated and confused.
Less than four months later, Toews joined Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship in April 2007 in Moscow, only the fifth player in the country's history to play the World Juniors and the World Championship in the same season. The last time a skater had done so was back in 1983. Toews ensured the selection was an admirable one. He had seven points in eight games and proved to be a smooth passer, especially on the power play. Canada won gold, and Toews became the first Canadian player to win double gold in the same year. And all this before he had played a single NHL game!
As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, IIHF.com is featuring the 100 Top International Hockey Stories from the past century (1908-2008). Continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Quebec City & Halifax, from May 2 – 18, the IIHF will post approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to 1.
The Top-10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF’s Centennial Gala evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the gold medal game of the 2008 IIHF World Championship. The evening will culminate with the announcement of the Top Story of the Century.