Canada 5 - Russia 0
CANADA STRIKES GOLD AGAIN WITH VICTORY OVER RUSSIA
By Lucas Aykroyd | Box Score
For the second straight year, Canada is on top of the junior hockey world. In a 5-0 victory over Russia at Vancouver’s GM Place on January 5, the Canadians succeeded in neutralizing super sniper Evgeni Malkin and fulfilling Head Coach Brent Sutter’s defence-first plan to perfection.
Michael Blunden led the way with a pair of goals, Blake Comeau had a goal and an assist, and Steve Downie and Kyle Chipchura also scored. Cam Barker and Andrew Cogliano added a pair of helpers apiece.
Although Russia dominated the first period territorially, Canada had the only two goals, and the final two periods belonged to the host team.
Canadian goalie Justin Pogge made 35 saves for his third shutout of the tournament. At the other end, Anton Khudobin stopped 29 shots for Russia.
With the victory, Brent Sutter’s all-time record for Canadian World Junior coaching wins now stands at 12. He has never lost a game behind Canada’s bench.
The five-goal margin of victory was the same as last year in Grand Forks, when Canada won 6-1. It was the fifth gold game between these two rivals since 1999. Russia won in 1999 (Winnipeg), 2002 (Pardubice), and 2003 (Halifax). It was also Canada’s fifth straight appearance in the gold medal game.
Russia entered this contest with eight returning veterans, while Canada had none, as Cam Barker did not play in last year’s tilt due to mononucleosis.
Team Canada skated out to its most tumultuous ovation of the tournament, including huge chants of “Go Canada Go!” and “Pogge!” throughout the pre-game introductions, from a crowd of 18,630 wearing an equal mix of home and away Canadian jerseys.
Canada’s Steve Downie threw a huge hit deep in the Russian end to set the tone on Denis Bodrov, but he was assessed a charging penalty at 0:36.
Evgeni Malkin streaked around the defence during the ensuing power play and zinged a wrister on net that Pogge gloved down. The Russians controlled the puck for much of the man advantage, until Alexei Emelin was dinged for hauling down Ryan O’Marra in the neutral zone at 2:02. Canada exerted some good pressure on its own power play but couldn’t get its first shot on goal.
With Ilia Zubov in the box for hooking at 4:40, Canada got its second power play of the game, and nearly opened the scoring when Boyd brought the puck in unobstructed from the right side, but Khudobin, challenging wildly, made the save.
In the eighth minute, Russia’s Enver Lisin came oh-so-close to banging home a puck in the air at Pogge’s right post.
Alexei Emelin was nabbed for slashing at 8:22, but 30 seconds later Downie was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct, nullifying the Canadian power play.
Zubov hauled down Marc Staal with five seconds left in the Russian power play, and it was back to the man advantage for Canada.
But that didn’t work out well for Canada, as first Steve Downie was crushed along the boards by Andrei Zubarev in the Russian zone, and then Cam Barker was tagged for hooking on Roman Voloshenko as the play headed up ice at 12:31. Pogge made a nice glove grab off Emelin’s point blast halfway through the penalty kill.
After the power play, the Russians turned up the heat. Pogge made more incredible saves on Russian point blasts and deflections. Alexander Radulov hit the crossbar right off a faceoff in the Canadian zone.
Luc Bourdon threw a bone-crushing hit on Sergei Ogorodnikov along the boards that drew a roar from the crowd with under five minutes left in the first period.
The dying moments of the opening stanza truly swung the advantage in Canada’s favour.
At 17:13, Steve Downie came around the net to Khudobin’s right and slid the puck through a tiny gap in the Russian goalie’s five-hole to give Canada the lead. Canada had been outshot 15-4 at that stage.
It didn’t take long for the red-and-white team to muster more offense. At 18:56, Canada went up 2-0 when Staal came over the blueline and fed Comeau a neat pass from left wing. Comeau banged home his own rebound underneath Khudobin.
Pogge continued his fine play early in the second period, giving Nikolai Kulemin nothing to shoot at when the Russian forward cut in around the Canadian defence and zinged a wrister high on goal. Later, he stood tall when Nikolai Lemtyugov powered a slapper on goal from the faceoff circle.
Also early in the second period, a possible Russian goal was reviewed, but the referee informed both benches that it would not count.
Khudobin came up big for Russia halfway through the period when Downie centered a pass down low to O’Marra, who backhanded it right into the perfectly positioned goalie.
After a frantic burst of action around the net, Tom Pyatt backhanded the puck right through the Russian goal crease behind Khudobin, and shortly after that play, Canada went to the man advantage when Alexander Aksenenko was nabbed for tripping at 11:34.
Canada quickly capitalized. After Cam Barker fired a hard left point shot through traffic, Blunden found the rebound and knifed it home at 12:02. When the red light came on, Khudobin collapsed dramatically backwards in his crease as if he had been shot.
At 12:25, Sergei Shirokov was left lying on the ice injured next to the penalty box area after colliding with David Bolland, but he got up and had an ice pack applied at the bench.
At 14:44, Blunden made it 4-0 on another power play, popping in a rebound over Khudobin’s glove from a scrum at the edge of the crease just before Canada’s man advantage came to an end.
Lisin got in tight on Pogge, jumping around Ryan Parent, and Cogliano was called for cross-checking after the Canadian goalie made a nice save at 15:21.
But during the Russian man advantage, it was Canada that got the best chance. Kyle Chipchura found Boyd alone in front of the net on a 2-on-1 rush, and Khudobin was forced to make a fine save.
Downie got another good chance when he got around Andrei Zubarev in the neutral zone and raced down right wing to pound a solid shot on the Russian goal.
With under two minutes left in the period, Toews thought he’d made it 5-0 when he poked in a rebound with Michael Blunden causing havoc in the crease, but the whistle had already blown.
Just 27 seconds into the final stanza, Malkin was nabbed for hooking. Russian frustration mounted. Downie nearly scored after working his way in on goal on a 2-on-1, and then showed Khudobin four fingers (for four goals) after the goalie came out to have words with him after a whistle.
After getting out of the penalty box, Malkin nearly had a breakaway, but Ryan Parent managed to knock him off the puck with good body position.
Then came some great end-to-end action. Bolland and Cogliano had a 2-on-1 but Bolland’s pass across was blocked by the Russian defender. Next, Bolland burst in alone on top of Khudobin, but only bumped the goalie.
Ilia Zubov fired high and wide with a clear path to the Canadian net, and shortly afterwards Malkin came down right wing and fired the puck into the belly of Pogge, square to the shooter.
The Russians started coming on a little toward the midway mark of the period, buzzing around Pogge’s net, and Bolland took a holding penalty at 9:43. Russia’s best chance came off a nice Alexander Radulov rush, as he fired hard from the faceoff circle to Pogge’s left, but Roman Voloshenko had no rebound to whack home.
Canada clamped down defensively in the last five minutes, allowing the Russians only long, easy-to-handle shots on Pogge, and frequently dumping the puck deep into the opposition’s zone.
Kyle Chipchura sealed the deal with 2:45 to go when he picked up a loose puck after a Cogliano rush and rifled it home with the goalie down and out.
The Vancouver crowd gave Canada another gigantic standing ovation as the final two minutes ticked down.
When the buzzer sounded, Canada mobbed Pogge and celebrated wildly in the corner with sticks and gloves flying. Led by the big netminder, the Canadian players took their commemorative victory baseball caps and raised them in salute to the crowd, grinning from ear to ear.
Denis Bodrov was named Russia’s Player of the Game, and for Canada, much to the crowd’s delight, it was big number 33, Justin Pogge.
The top three players of the tournament for Russia were announced: Evgeni Malkin, Alexei Emelin, and Anton Khudobin.
Canada’s top three players were Justin Pogge, Steve Downie, and Marc Staal.
The Best Goalie of the tournament was Finland’s Tuukka Rask, who cheerfully gave the thumbs up to the crowd.
Canada’s Marc Staal was named the Best Defenceman.
Evgeni Malkin was named the Best Forward, and also accepted the commemorative silver plate to represent Russia’s second-place finish.
Then the Russians lined up to get their silver medals, presented by dignitaries including IIHF President René Fasel and tournament chairman Frank Gonzalez. The Russians applauded the Canadian crowd, and the fans responded in kind.
The Canadians clustered around captain Kyle Chipchura as he hoisted the IIHF World Junior Championship trophy, before receiving their gold medals to the strains of Vancouver-based rock band Prism’s “Armageddon.”
This was Canada’s 12th IIHF World Junior gold medal, marking its first back-to-back championship since 1997.
Starting in December 2006, Canada will go for a golden three-peat at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden.
Michael Blunden of the OHL’s Erie Otters banged in a pair of hard-working power play goals to give Canada a 4-0 lead over Russia heading into the third period. The host nation is just 20 minutes away from its second consecutive IIHF World Junior gold medal.
After Cam Barker fired a hard left point shot through traffic, Blunden found the rebound and knifed it home at 12:02. When the red light came on, Russian goalie Anton Khudobin collapsed dramatically backwards in his crease as if he had been shot.
At 14:44, Blunden made it 4-0, popping in a rebound over Khudobin’s glove from a scrum at the edge of the crease just before Canada’s man advantage came to an end. Barker also earned an assist on that goal.
Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, and Justin Pogge’s goaltending heroics keyed Canada to a 2-0 first period lead.
Although the Russians dominated territorially and outshot Canada 15-8, the host team got a huge spark when, at 17:13, Downie came around the net to Anton Khudobin’s right and slid the puck through a tiny gap in the Russian goalie’s five-hole to give Canada the lead. Canada had been outshot 15-4 at that stage.
At 18:56 of the first, Canada went up 2-0 when Marc Staal came over the Russian blueline and fed Comeau a neat pass from left wing. Comeau banged home his own rebound underneath Khudobin. The Kelowna Rockets forward also assisted on Downie’s opening tally.
Playing a strong physical game, Canada managed to neutralize sniper Evgeni Malkin through 40 minutes. Canada outshot Russia 27-24 to that point.
Stay tuned to HockeyCanada.ca for a full game recap following the third period.
Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, and Justin Pogge’s goaltending heroics keyed Canada to a 2-0 first period lead in the gold medal game versus Russia.
Although the Russians dominated territorially and outshot Canada 15-8, the host team got a huge spark when, at 17:13, Steve Downie came around the net to Anton Khudobin’s right and slid the puck through a tiny gap in the Russian goalie’s five-hole to give Canada the lead. Canada had been outshot 15-4 at that stage.
At 18:56, Canada went up 2-0 when Marc Staal came over the Russian blueline and fed Comeau a neat pass from left wing, and Comeau banged home his own rebound underneath Khudobin. The Kelowna Rockets forward also assisted on Downie’s opening tally.
It was a physical period, with huge hits dished out by Downie, Luc Bourdon and other Canadians, and the Russians frequently responded in kind.
Stay tuned to HockeyCanada.ca for another update after the second period.
PREVIEW: CANADA - RUSSIA
By Lucas Aykroyd
Canada: This is it. Team Canada has arrived at the destination Head Coach Brent Sutter set for the group from Day One. Now, it’s a question of what they will do with the opportunity that presents itself over the final 60 minutes (or more) of the tournament. Strong defensive play has gotten Canada to this point. The team has not surrendered more than three goals in one game, and that was the 4-3 Round Robin win over Switzerland on December 28. In fact, Canada’s total goals-against of six heading into the gold medal game is exactly the same as it was last year with a much more heralded squad. The difference is in goals-for (35 at this point last year, 20 this year), and that’s why Canada should avoid getting into a run-and-gun affair with the slick Russians, who have a tournament-leading 26 tallies. Big, strong players like Benoit Pouliot and Luc Bourdon need to take the body consistently to slow down Team Russia, but they also need to be smart and disciplined about it. Angling Russian attackers off to the boards as they enter the Canadian zone is also a key. Better yet would be to cut off lanes in the neutral zone, diminishing the opposition’s speed. But the Canadians won’t just react to what Russia does--they’re sure to initiate and go after the victory. Watch for a heavy forecheck early on to try to rattle the Russian defenders, and expect to see Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, and Dustin Boyd working to shut down Evgeni Malkin’s line and generate offence from turnovers. The defence pairing of Marc Staal and Ryan Parent will go against Malkin whenever possible, although Russia has the last change as the designated home team. Justin Pogge, boasting a 1.20 GAA and .933 save percentage, will get his sixth consecutive start in goal, and should expect to face more than the 18 shots per game he’s had on average to date. The Canadians will enjoy overwhelming, tumultuous support from the GM Place crowd of 18,630. If they can ride that wave of emotion without going over the edge, gold is eminently possible.
Russia: Puck possession is the key to Russia’s success. That’s not only historically true, but also true of this year’s team, whose kingpin, Evgeni Malkin, is more of a playmaker than Alexander Ovechkin, who garnered the lion’s share of attention in last year’s final. But will the Russians overdo it? In other words, will they hold on to the puck longer than they should, try to make low-percentage cross-ice passes, or make lots of 1-on-3-type solo rushes? If they do, it will play into Canada’s hands, especially if the host team grabs an early lead and clamps down defensively. If the Russians jump out to a 1-0 or 2-0 lead, though, all bets are off. And watch out for their power play, which has clicked at 32.2 percent, compared to Canada’s 19.5. Finesse and speed are the main weapons of this squad seeking its nation’s fourth gold medal since 1999. As far as physical play, the Russians won’t necessarily initiate the hitting, but based on what they showed against the USA in the late stages of the semi-finals, they are less likely to back down than some previous Russian squads may have been. Malkin’s line with Ilia Zubov and Nikolai Kulemin will be a focal point, but Nikolai Lemtyugov, Sergei Shirokov, and Alexander Radulov are among the other Russian forwards who can capitalize given the opportunity. Alexei Emelin enters this contest as the tournament’s highest-scoring defenceman with seven points, and Evgeny Biryukov and Denis Bodrov have also chipped in offensively, while Kirill Lyamin, though held pointless, has laid out some big checks. Starting goalie Anton Khudobin, whose .954 save percentage is tops in the tournament, has openly talked about taking revenge for Russia’s loss in last year’s gold medal game, and Malkin and defenceman Andrei Zubarev have claimed that ostensibly superior Russian skill will win the day. Brave words. We’ll see how it shakes out.
For more information:
André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications