Canada Crushes Sweden 8-2 in Record-Setting Victory
Forty-one centimetres of snow were not enough to cool off Team Canada tonight in Halifax, as the capacity crowd of 10 300 enjoyed a dominating 8-2 victory by Canada over Team Sweden. Despite completely outplaying the Swedes, Canadian coach Marc Habscheid was his usual stoic self after the game. "We need to play with controlled emotion; we can’t afford to put skilled teams on the power play."
Habscheid may not have enjoyed the number of short-handed situations his squad faced, but there were no other aspects with which he should be displeased. Canada started the game with a crunching hit by forward Daniel Paille on the first shift, and in some respects that established the tone of the game and was its first turning point. Sweden retaliated for the hit and drew a penalty which led to Canada’s first goal at 1:31, a power play marker by forward Brooks Laich. It was the first of a team record six goals with the man advantage this night.
Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White drew assists on the first goal in a sign of things to come. Canada scored five more times with the man advantage, Colaiacovo picking up four assists and White scoring two and adding one helper. The six power play goals for Canada broke a team record that was set by the 1994 team against Kazakhstan. Colaiacovo also tied the record for assists in a game by a defenseman. He was voted the Canadian player of the game and post-game he was happy to hear about the record: "I’m honoured to know that we hold a record for the goals in a game, but it is just that—one game. We need to move forward."
Canada got the two goals from White, and singles from Laich, Matt Stajan, Gregory Campbell, Scottie Upshall, Pierre Alexandre Parenteau, Brendan Bell, and Derek Roy. Habsheid was content with the balanced scoring attack, and was impressed with his team’s ability to create the tone of a hard-hitting game, "It’s always important in these types of tournaments to stay focused, especially with the amount of power plays. It makes 5-on-5 difficult because guys try to do too much"
Swedish coach Peo Larsson was defensive of his team’s play, "Our guys are used to playing in front of 40-50 people. I think the crowd made them nervous." Larsson was quick to take some positives from the game. "We actually won the game 2-1 in 5-on-5 situations. That is something for us to build upon. We have to improve our discipline before the next game. At times we over-reacted."
The lack of discipline Larsson referred to came as a result of the retaliation his team showed in response to the heavy hitting by the Canadian forwards. Aside from Paille’s opening shift hit, forward Jordin Tootoo led the way in physicality for the team. After the game, Tootoo was all smiles, saying, "Fortunately I like to throw my body around, and hey, that’s Canadian hockey."
Canadian goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was beaten twice, both on defensive breakdowns in front of him. The first Sweden goal was scored by Fredrik Ericsson as Fleury was being sat on by his own defender. "I got caught on his skate and there was nothing I could do," Fleury explained.
The Canadian netminder did provide bright spots with his play, most notably stopping a short-handed breakaway in the second period which coach Habscheid deemed the turning point of the game. "It was a two-goal swing," said Habsheid in the post-game press conference. The play had extra significance because Fleury picked up an assist on the play. It was only the second time in tournament history that a Canadian goaltender reported a point. "I already had a point this year [in Cape Breton] and I never had two points in one season," Fleury beemed, "I’m having a good year, I guess."
Next up for Canada is the Czech Republic while the Swedes play Finland. Both games are scheduled for Saturday.
Team Canada Head Coach Marc Habscheid announced on Christmas morning that the starting goaltender for Thursday night’s game would be Marc-Andre Fleury of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. In Canada’s exhibition debut Fleury stopped all 11 shots for the 5-0 shutout vs. Slovakia.
Fleury has been turning NHL scouts heads all season as he looks to move up in rankings for next summer’s NHL Draft. Named the QMJHL’s Defensive Player of the Month for October, Fleury has been the backbone of the Screaming Eagles since he joined the club for the 2000-01 season. Earlier this season, Fleury was selected to represent the QMJHL in the CHL Hershey Cup All-Star series in Kitchener.
The native of Sorel, Quebec is not new to international competition as he backstopped Team Quebec in the 2001 U-17 World Hockey Challenge. In addition to this Fleury was a member of the 2001 Gold Medal winning Team Canada at the Six Nations U-18 tournament.
Team Canada Head Coach Marc Habscheid describes the young goaltender, "Fleury is a very focused goaltender, he doesn’t like letting goals in even during fun drills in practice." Fleury is a quick goaltender who uses his large frame to cut down shooter’s angles. Coach Habscheid talks about why Team Canada is going with Fleury in the first game, "There is only one net to protect so we had to choose one guy. Because Fleury will start the opening game doesn’t mean that he will be our #1 guy, we will reevaluate the situation after every game."
Hometown team to begin against the perennially tough Swedes
The wait for the IIHF World Junior Championships is almost over. For the teams involved, the selection process has been completed, the photo ops are finished and the pre-tournament schedule is finally over. All that is left now are the games. For Team Sweden and Team Canada, said games begin on the 26th of December when the two hockey powerhouses face off in the Halifax Metro Centre.
For Team Sweden, the past few years have seen the hockey crazed country wallow in mediocrity, a shadow of their former selves. In fact, the Swedes have not even won a medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships in six years. The 1996 silver medal that was the country’s last capped a streak of five straight years with a medal.
Heading into this tournament, the biggest concern for Team Sweden, was an apparent lack of offence. The Swedes entered teams in a pair of four nations tournaments in the months leading up to the IIHF World Junior Championships, and many of the players that played in those tournaments will be featured on the ice over the next ten days. In six games at these aforementioned tournaments, however, Sweden managed only 11 goals, with four players tying for the team lead with two apiece. The team will be led offensively by a trio of big players, beginning with 6’2" Joakim Lindstrom. Lindstrom, who tips the scales near 200lbs, has scored twice in pre-competition play, as well as netting three points in the six four-nations games in which he played. He will be shouldering the load with equally imposing Fredrik Eriksson and Alexander Steen, who have both also scored in pre-competition play, and both also managed four points in their four-nations games this autumn. Steen, who plays his club hockey in Sweden, was actually born in Winnipeg, Canada, and plays a very Canadian game, at times landing him in the penalty box.
Between the pipes, Sweden has enjoyed solid performances from both of its goaltenders, both in pre-competition games and earlier. Michal Zajkowski, who was actual born in the Polish city of Lodz, will most likely get the nod for the Swedes, after an impressive performance in a four-nations tournament this fall, coupled with a deceivingly good showing in a 6-2 loss against the Americans in pre-competition action. Also on the Swedish roster is Mathias Fagerstrom, who backstopped Sweden to a 5-2 victory over Team Germany last week in an exhibition game.
Like Sweden, Team Canada finds itself nursing its way through an uncharacteristic slump of achievement as of late, but on a drastically different scale than that of the Swedes. Canada has owned the IIHF World Junior Championships since their inception, netting an impressive 18 medals, including 10 gold. Times have changed, however, whereby Canada has not won a gold medal in five years, since the gold of 1997. That streak of futility is the longest in twenty years, stretching back to the first years of the tournament, in 1974, seven years before Canada would win its first gold in 1981.
For Canada, a healthy squad means few decisions for Head Coach Marc Habscheid, as the Canadian squad will field a similar lineup to that which met Team Finland just three days ago in pre-tournament action. The only difference for the red and white, will be the man in nets, as 18-year-old standout Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod after a very impressive selection camp.
Perhaps the only people anticipating the start of the IIHF World Junior Championships more than the players are the fans in Halifax. Mass pandemonium in the seats will be nothing but an advantage for the hometown Canadian side, and a sight many of the players cannot wait to see. "I expect it to be nuts inside the Metro Centre," said defenceman Nathan Paetsch. "I’m so excited to see that, and I really don’t know how to prepare myself for it."
Canadian sparkplug Jordin Tootoo echoed these sentiments when commenting on what he expects to see inside the Metro Centre. "Canada is the best place to play hockey in the world. To have the home crowd behind you is going to be like having a seventh player on the ice. I think that it is going to be an incredible experience for every guy out there."
Even mild mannered Coach Habscheid, who played forty games in Halifax when the city boasted an AHL team, looks forward to the support in the stands. "There is no question that Halifax is a great hockey city. The fans were great when I was here, and to compare the World Juniors to the AHL really isn’t much of a comparison. I know that they’re going to come out in great numbers and give us great support through the whole journey."
The match-up of Canada vs. Sweden, is a battle of two teams going through very different lean years. Will Canada win their first gold in five years? Will Sweden medal for the first time in six years? The first step to both of these answers takes place today, as at 8:00pm the two teams take the ice for their opening games of the Championship.
Team Canada accomplished exactly what they wanted to in the first period. The scored, they hit, they skated; all better than the Swedish team. Simply put Canada dominated, and they carry a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The first period was all Canada. Wearing their fourth, black jerseys, the team scored 1:31 into the opening frame and ignited the hometown fans. The atmosphere here at the Metro Centre cannot be described, as the boisterous home crowd is supporting Canada’s every move.
Team Canada has proved lethal on the power play notching two goals, the first only 1:31 into the game. With Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White manning the point, the Canadians have kept the Swedes at bay with the man advantage. Pierre Alexander Parenteau scored Canada’s first goal and White blasted the second past Swedish goaltender Mathias Fagerstrom at 11:11.
Nathan Paetsch and Jordin Tootoo led the Canadians in aggressiveness, with each dealing out a number of thunderous checks.
Team Sweden spent much of the first period short handed, and at one point trailed in shots on goal by an 11-1 margin. The Swedes gained two powerplays of their own late in the period and were able to end the period being outshot only 12-6.
For more information:
André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications