Canada 4 - Finland 2
CANADA IS AS GOOD AS GOLD, AGAIN
by: Alan Adams
Canada won the gold medal at the 2007 World Hockey Championship on Sunday, beating Finland 4-2 in the championship game of the pressure-packed 16-team tournament.
It is Canada's third world title since 2003 and 24th overall. Head coach Andy Murray also won his third world title. His record is 27-4-4 at this tournament, including 17-0-1 in his last 18 games.
The win also capped a tremendous year for Hockey Canada on the international stage. Canada won the World Junior Championship in January and the World Women's Championship in April.
The victory over the Finns also avenged a 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze medal game at the 2006 world tournament in Latvia.
The Canadian roster at the '07 world tournament featured 11 players making their debut at the men's senior tournament, and Canada sent its youngest team ever. But the combination served the Canadians well.
Team captain Shane Doan was proud of the way he and his teammates silenced their doubters who suggested Canada would have a hard time scoring and they were too young to have success on the world stage.
"People had questions about us but we grew as a team," said Doan.
Doan's contribution went well beyond that as he handled the political controversy over his captaincy back home with grace. His hat trick against Belarus amidst that distraction in the qualifying round was a defining moment for the team.
"It was special being captain of this year and a real honor," added Doan, who now has three world championship gold medals, the same number as defenceman Eric Brewer and Murray. In his post-game address to the world champions, Murray praised his players for their work ethic and how they handled themselves and how they represented Canada.
"You made a difference for Canada today," said Murray. "Our passion for hockey is second to none and we have the deepest emotional well to draw from. It was a great victory for us today."
Rick Nash opened the scoring early in the first period, 13 seconds after the Finns took a penalty, putting Canada on a power play. Nash had the puck in the faceoff circle to the left of goalie Kari Lehtonen and his low wrist shot slipped past the goalie in his stick side for a 1-0 lead at 6:30.
The Canadians were on the power play six minutes later when Eric Staal made it 2-0. The play started with Justin Williams batted the puck out of the air in a clearing attempt by the Finns. The puck went to Matthew Lombardi and Staal chipped his pass behind Lehtonen at 13:40. Lombardi's assist was his 11th point in nine games.
Goalie Cam Ward had an easy first period but he was a little busier in the first half of the second when the Finns played with a sense of desperation.
But timing can be everything in hockey and Colby Armstrong could not have picked a better time to score his first goal of the tournament. He surprised Lehtonen with a quick wrist shot for a 3-0 lead at 9:11 of the second period.
The Finns broke Ward's bid for a shutout at 11:08 of the third on a shot by Petri Kontiola and they made it 3-2 at 17:44.
But Nash made it 4-2 on a spectacular individual effort. He took a pass at centre, held off a defender and kept his balance as he pulled the puck to his backhand and scored to seal the victory.
Nash was named the tournament MVP and was also named to the All-Star Team. No other Canadian player was recognized with an individual award, which was only fitting for this team-first group.
"The first goal was great, it is goof to get the early one, but that last one was sweet," said Nash.
Canada won all nine games at the 2007 world tournament. The last time Canada went 9-0 was 1937 when the tournament was in London, England.
The 2008 world tournament will be staged in Quebec City and Halifax.