The Russian World Junior team scored five unanswered third period goals to win the gold medal against Canada in an astonishing turn of events some are calling one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the tournament. The final score was 5-3. It’s the second year in the row that the Canadian junior team was forced to settle for a silver medal in the WJC, but chances are this one hurts a lot more.
That’s because the Canadians were nursing a 3-0 lead two minutes into the third period of this game and it seemed as if they could coast to a gold medal victory after falling just short last year as John Carlson’s overtime game-winner earned the gold for the American team.
Cue your favorite “Fat Lady Singing” jokes, because Canada paid dearly for resting on their laurels in this one.
The Russians scored 2:33 into that final frame and then pulled within one goal just 13 seconds later. Instead of being a heart-stopping blip on the radar, the duo of scores were instead the beginning of the end. Canadian coach Dave Cameron might have been better served calling a timeout at that point, but he instead waited until the Russians tied the scored 3-3 about five minutes later.
Once the game was tied, the two teams traded body blows before the Russians exploited a shell-shocked Canadian team with two more goals (none of which, by the way, came via an empty net).
One of the night’s highlights was the Russian players’ celebrations, as the jubilant bunch shook nearby cameras and recited their national anthem with comical vigor. Meanwhile, the Canadian-heavy crowd was so shocked that I compared them to the WCW audience that witnessed Hulk Hogan’s conversion to the nWo.
Canadian standouts Brayden Schenn and defenseman Ryan Ellis took away some individual awards for the event tonight, but judging from the looks on their faces, they won’t celebrate those accomplishments anytime soon.
It’s an enormous collapse for the puck-obsessed nation of Canada, but as many people pointed out in the Twitter aftermath, such a moment reveals that the tournament can generate some genuine rivalries. Next year’s Canadian team won’t need bulletin board material; instead, they’ll just need to watch footage of the Russians skating by the 2011 team with the tournament trophy during their ecstatic celebration.
Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.
However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.
Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”
Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.
Markov, Habs officially part ways.
Markov is headed to the KHL.
The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.
The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.
Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.
He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.
Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.
Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.
“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)
The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.
Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.
If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.
One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.
Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.
Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.
Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.
With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.
Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.