Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia’s year of frustration continued today as the upstart Czech Republic team shocked them 2-1 to win the gold medal in the 2010 IIHF World Championships.
The Czech Republic was not expected to have so much success. After all, their biggest name Jaromir Jagr almost seemed to wave a white flag of defeat while chastising his more prominent countrymen for declining an offer to play for the team earlier in the tournament. It turned out they probably were better off without those players, though, as Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun and relative unknown/team captain Jan Marek helped the team win it all despite nearly facing the humiliation of playing in the tournament’s relegation round. Joe Yerdon wrote this about their performancefor the Hockey Worlds Blog.
Much like the other games the Czechs played in the elimination round of this tournament, the game would be tightly defended, low-scoring, and count on someone coming up big somehow. Only difference this time was that it didn’t have to be Jan Marek and Tomas Vokoun in a post-overtime shootout. This time it was still Vokoun leading the charge as he made 35 saves and you could argue that Vokoun is used to backstopping teams that are a bit deficient in talent since he’s a Florida Panthers goalie in the NHL. The difference between the Panthers and the Czechs, of course, is that the Czechs played great as a team and rallied better than just about anyone throughout this whole tournament.
Yerdon pointed out that both Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammate Alex Semin finished the game -2, the only Russians to reach that mark in the gold medal contest. It’s unfair to call either player “chokers” but that doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere almost certainly is doing just that.
The Puck Stops Here lists the tournament’s award winners.
Dennis Endras, the German goalie, was chosen as tournament MVP. Pavel Datsyuk was chosen the top forward and Petteri Nummelin of Finland was chosen the top defenceman in the tournament.
Ultimately, the Czechs ended up with the gold medal while Russia took the silver and Sweden finished with a bronze after defeating host country Germany 3-1. Be sure to check out the Hockey Worlds blog when you’re done browsing PHT.