Canadian juniors capture 4th straight gold
Forward Matt Halischuk scored at 3:36 of overtime to lift Canada to a 3-2 win over Sweden in the gold-medal game at the world junior hockey championship on Saturday.
Brad Marchand and Claude Giroux added first-period goals in Pardubice, Czech Republic, to help the Canadians win their fourth consecutive gold and 14th overall.
"Our kids just grabbed the rope and said 'You know what? We'll find a way to get this thing done,'" Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg said.
On the winning goal, Halischuk jammed a loose puck in the crease by Sweden goalie Jhonas Enroth after Canadian forward Shawn Matthias drove to the net from the corner.
"Shawn Matthias did a great job of taking the puck to the net," said Halischuk, who plays for the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers. "I just tried to go to the net and it was just sitting there so I whacked it home and saw the ref pointing, so it was pretty special."
Jonathan Carlsson and Tomas Larsson, the latter with 38 seconds left in regulation, scored for the Swedes, who posted a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Canadians in the preliminary round.
With Canada smelling victory Saturday and Enroth on the bench for an extra attacker in the dying seconds of the third period, Larsson gave the Swedes some life.
His initial rebound attempt was stopped by defenceman Drew Doughty on the goal line, but he made no mistake on his second shot as Canadian netminder Steve Mason was caught out of position.
"The Swedes turned their game up a notch and it was real hard for us to stay with them speed-wise," Hartsburg said.
Mason, coming off a 33-save performance in Friday's semifinal win over the United States, was named the most valuable player and top goalie of this year's tournament and also voted by the media to the all-star team.
The biggest of his 26 stops came in OT when he denied Swedish forward Tony Lagerstrom, who stood alone in front of the Canadian net.
The only negative for Canada was the loss of forward Stefan Legein to a separated right shoulder in the first period. He played one shift and didn't return.
Trailing 2-0, Sweden got on the board at 5:13 of the third period on a Carlsson power-play goal. Johan Alcen set up the goal, skating behind Canada's net and slipping a back-hander to an open Carlsson, who beat Mason to the short side.
Marchand beat Enroth 87 seconds after the opening faceoff for his third goal in as many games against Sweden over the last two years. He was on the spot when a shot from the faceoff circle by Giroux bounced above Enroth's head.
The puck appeared to either go off a part of Marchand's anatomy or a Swedish defender, but it rolled off Enroth and over the goal line.
Later in the frame, Marchand notched his sixth point in the last six games when he set up Giroux.
For the Swedes, who entered the game with a 5-0-0 record, it was their first medal at the world juniors in 12 years. They hadn't medalled since losing to Canada in the final at the 1996 tournament in Boston, but are 0-5 all-time against the Canadians in the medal round.
Sweden's lone title in this tournament came in 1981 in Germany.
Canada's road to the final required a 4-2 quarter-final win over Finland before beating the U.S. 4-1 in a semifinal.
It felt like a home game for the Canadian players, who enjoyed vocal support from about 2,000 fans among the announced crowd of 7,480 — by far the loudest contingent at Pardubice Arena.
Ten Canadian players, including Kyle Turris, Steve Stamkos and John Tavares, are eligible for next year's tourney in Ottawa.
Canada will also host in 2010 and 2012 and the U.S. gets it in 2011.
Earlier Saturday, Russia defeated the Americans 4-2 in the bronze-medal game. Nikita Filatov and Alexei Cherepanov led the attack with three points each.
Tournament all-star team:
- Steve Mason, Canada — goaltender.
- Drew Doughty, Canada — defenceman.
- Victor Hedman, Sweden — defenceman.
- Patrik Berglund, Sweden — forward.
- Viktor Tikhonov, Russia — forward.
- James vanRiemsdyk, United States — forward.