Remember 2011 Canada? These Russians sure do
5 members of Russian World Cup team were on junior squad that humiliated Canadians
Canada's best has been flawless for more than half a decade. Since midway through the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the national team has won 13 straight games in best-on-best tournaments.
After losing 5-3 to the U.S in the preliminary round in Vancouver, they rifled off four straight to win the gold, went unbeaten in Sochi at 6-0 and are now a perfect 3-0 through the World Cup.
But things have been different at the junior national level, where Canada has won only one world championship in that same time frame.
And no loss was more painful than the 2011 tournament final, where Russia scored five goals in the third period to erase a 3-0 Canada lead.
So before Canadians feel too comfortable going into Saturday's semifinal against Russia, take note that five members of that Russian junior team will be on the ice at the Air Canada Centre.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Artemi Panarin, Dmitry Orlov and Nikita Zaitsev all helped Russia pull off one of the biggest comebacks in the tournament's history.
"I think every young Russian hockey player watched that and remembers," Russian Rinat Valiev said during the 2015 tournament. "It taught us that you can never give up. There is always a chance."
Russia, led by then 19-year-old captain Tarasenko, was playing Canada in the final. Canada was hungry for gold, having had its streak of five straight snapped by the U.S in 2010.
It looked good for Canada going into the third, a 3-0 lead and outshooting the Russians 29-17.
Tarasenko, now one of the NHL's top players, was injured in the second after taking a knee to the ribs from Marcus Foligno, but ignored his coach's wishes to sit out the third. He made the right choice.
"Even though he was really hurt, he said 'I want to go on the ice,'" forward Maxim Kitsyn said after the game. "The other guys had to be motivated by that."
It would seem they were.
Panarin scored 2:33 into the period, Kitsyn scored 13 seconds after that, and suddenly Russia was behind by only one.
With 12:31 left in the game, Tarasenko scored and it was tied. A reeling Canadian squad just couldn't stop the Russian momentum.
Less than eight minutes later, Tarasenko carried the puck behind the net, fed it in front for Panarin, and the current Blackhawk scored his second of the period to make it 4-3. They would add one more with just over one minute remaining — five unanswered goals and the gold medal.
The final tally for those 20 minutes: two goals for Panarin, a goal and an assist for Tarasenko, and three assists Kuznetsov.
"Simply, we believe in ourselves," Panarin said after the win. "It's just about our character. We never surrender."