May 10, 2014

Biggest Team Canada Upsets

The 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championships opened with a 3-2 shootout upset of Team Canada by France.

Yes. France.

Now maybe we shouldn't knock France too much. After all they are backed by former NHL star Cristobal Huet, who played 272 games in the NHL,  in net and a plucky group of forwards including a few with North American ties. Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars, for example. And France pulled off a similar upset at the 2013 Worlds with a 2-1 win over Russia.

The 2014 edition of Team Canada does not look very strong, either. They look like a collection of decent NHL players that has just been thrown together - because it is. They also lack a true star. 18 year old rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon may emerge as the top star. Team Canada probably will not fare too well at this tournament. Perhaps the real value for Canada will be developing youngsters like MacKinnon, Sean Monahan and Mark Scheifele.

Still, France knocking off Canada is very much an upset of epic proportions. It may very well rank as the greatest win in Team France's hockey history. But is it the biggest upset in Team Canada history? Let's take a look at my top 5:
  • Great Britain, 1936 Olympics - At the Garmisch-Partenkirschen Olympics a team of British-Canadians represents Great Britain and knocks off the heavily favored Canadians and wins the gold medal in the process.
  • Soviet Union, 1954 World Championships - In their debut at the World Hockey Championships the Soviets sensationally defeat an unsuspecting Canada 7-2. Up until this tournament Canada almost always won the World Championships. The international hockey world changed forever with the Soviets' arrival.
  • Soviet Union, Game one, 1972 Summit Series - The Soviets dominated international hockey for the previous decade, but they had never faced Canada's best players - the NHL stars. So when the first ever best on best meeting of Russia and Canada finally happened in 1972, pretty much everybody expected Canada to walk all over the Soviet "amateurs." But the Soviets walked out of the Montreal Forum with a shocking 7-3 win. 
  • Sweden, 1976 World Juniors - Canada's worst loss at the World Junior Hockey Championships was a 17-1 loss to Sweden in 1976? The game does require a bit of an explanation as to why the score was so lopsided.
  • Switzerland, 2006 Olympics - We have become accustomed to the Swiss playing their defensive game with great goaltending to give many teams some great battles. And now in 2014 we do not consider the Swiss an easy game by any means. But the 2006 2-0 upset win over Canada, thanks largely to goalie Martin Gerber, was by a very young Swiss team and no one saw it coming. This was the first Swiss victory over Canada in international hockey history. 

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