Capping off a year of success on the international stage, Canada’s three gold medal-winning teams from the 2007-08 season – the National Junior Team, National Sledge Team and National Men’s Under-18 Team – were honoured at the 2008 Canadian Hockey Foundation Celebrity Classic gala on Monday night, where the players received their championship rings.
Hockeycanada.ca takes a look back at the crowning moments of all three teams, their gold medal game victories.
Canada’s National Junior Team took three consecutive gold medals and an 18-game winning streak into the Czech Republic for the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship, and after shutout wins over the host Czechs and Slovakia to open the tournament it looked like Canada could stroll to another World Junior gold.
But Sweden had other ideas, erasing a 2-0 third period Canadian lead on its way to a 4-3 preliminary round win, snapping Canada’s 20-game winning streak and forcing it to go the long route through the quarterfinals if it hoped to take home a fourth straight gold.
After vanquishing Finland in the quarters, Canada romped to a 4-1 win over the USA in the semi-final to set up a rematch with the Swedes. Just like the round-robin game seven days earlier Canada held a 2-0 lead in the third period, only to see the Scandinavians come back, this time to force overtime.
It took just 3:36 of the extra period for Matt Halischuk to become Canada’s latest World Junior hero, as the Mississauga, ON native scored to give Canada its second four-peat, joining the five in a row won from 19.
Paralympic gold medalists in 2006. World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold medalists in 2007. All that was missing in the National Sledge Team trophy case was an IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship gold medal.
The quest for the elusive IPC gold medal – Canada won the world title in 2000, before it was an official IPC event – took the Canadians to Marlborough, Massachusetts for the 2008 Sledge Worlds, where they were the class of the tournament.
Wins over Italy (11-0), Germany (6-3), Japan (3-1), the USA (3-0) and Norway (5-0) gave Canada a perfect 5-0 preliminary round mark, and put it into the gold medal game, where the Norwegians would once again provide the opposition.
Trailing 2-1 near the midway point of the final period, blueliner Adam Dixon converted on a point shot for his fifth goal of the tournament, setting the stage for Greg Westlake’s game-winning goal with just 9.3 seconds to go, clinching a 3-2 win and a world championship for Canada.
While the National Junior Team and National Sledge Team needed last-second goals, or overtime, to claim gold, there was no such drama for the National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2008 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Russia.
Convincing preliminary round wins over Germany (9-2), Denmark (4-1) and Slovakia (6-0) were sandwiched around a 4-2 loss to the host Russians, a loss that sent the Canadians to the quarterfinals.
Canada eked out a 2-1 win over Finland in the quarterfinal and followed that up with a tight 3-2 semi-final victory over Sweden the following day, advancing to the gold medal game for just the third time in seven trips to the tournament.
Facing a Russian team playing in front of 10,000 home-ice fans and looking for their second straight world title, Canada came out on fire, scoring five times on 10 shots in the first period on its way to an 8-0 win and its second U18 world championship, joining the 2003 gold medal. Jake Allen made 29 saves for the shutout, clinching his spot as the tournament’s Top Goaltender and MVP.