January 05, 2011

Russia Wins 2011 World Junior Championship

Russia absolutely stunned Canada with 5 unanswered goals in the third period to win the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Canada had held a 3-0 lead entering the final period, but started the third period by uncharacteristically sitting back too much. Russia struck with 2 goals in 11 seconds, opening up an avalanche of offense to unthinkably come from behind and win, showing great heart in the process.

It was an amazing come back and an even more amazing collapse. That being said, the Russians probably deserved a better standing after two periods anyways. They had their chances in the first period especially.(including one shot off the crossbar) and probably should have had at least one goal. They did a good job of lessening Canada's size advantage and heavy forecheck, and keeping the all-Canadian crowd surprisingly quiet for much of the game.

Momentum is a great teammate to have, especially at the World Juniors. Remember, as good as these hockey players are, they are just kids, some still in high school. Canada's kids learned tough lessons in this loss.

Meanwhile congratulations must go out to the Russians. They're historic night is now forever the stuff of hockey legend.

Canada's Game - While the IIHF officially thanked the city of Buffalo for making the 2011 WJCs the second most attended tournament in history (behind only Ottawa in 2009), they failed to thank the Canadians that crossed the border to fill what would have otherwise been a average-at-best tourney. We will not always win these tournaments, but Canadian fans proved without a shadow of a doubt that this is still very much our game.

Schenn-sational - Braydon Schenn swept the honours with tournament MVP, best forward, all star and scoring leader awards. His 18 points matches Dale McCourt's all time Team Canada WJC record for points in one tournament. Think about that for a second. Of all the greats to play for Canada at the WJC - Gretzky, Lemieux, Lindros - McCourt and now Schenn have had the best individual tournaments. McCourt, who starred in 1977, is hardly a household name anymore. He was a fantastic junior star who went on to an average NHL career, thanks largely to the weak teams he played on. Here's more on Dale McCourt.

Other notables - As good as Braydon Schenn was in this tournament, I have to say Ryan Johansen is Canada's most intriguing prospect. Ryan Ellis, too, of course. For me personally local boy (almost) Brett Connelly was disappointingly quiet.

Some Interesting Numbers:
  • In 38 official WJCs, Canada is now 242-175-47-21 with 1245 goals scored and 621 goals against. They have 30 medals, including 15 golds. 
  • Russia (including USSR and CIS totals) are now 239-179-46-13, also in 38 tourneys. They've scored 1261 goals and gave up 556. They have won 32 medals, including 16 golds.
  • In 35 WJC games head to head, Russia now holds a 18-15-2, with 129 goals scored compared to Canada's 128
  • Canada is now 7-6 in gold medal WJC games. Russia is now 4-5. Remember, until the mid 1990s, the gold medal was awarded to team with best tournament record. There was no medal round with showdown for the championship.
  • 2011 marked Canada's 10th consecutive gold medal game. The previous record was 3 straight (Russia 2005-07)
  • Ryan Ellis is now the tournament's all time leader in career assists (20) and career points by a defenseman (25).
See You In Alberta - Remember that attendance record we talked about earlier? Expect it to be obliterated at the 2012 tourney. Edmonton and Calgary are co-hosting what will be an incredible showdown. The demand for tickets is already ridiculous.

1 comment:

Bruno said...

canadian team was lazy on the third period, they thought it was over for Russia team...great willpower for russians, a tough lesson canadians guys receive