TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29: Patrice Bergeron #37 of Team Canada is congratulated by his teammate Steven Stamkos #91 after scoring a third period goal during the third period during Game Two of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 29, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Team Canada defeated the Team Europe 2-1.  (Photo by Peter Power/Getty Images)
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Team Canada stuns Team Europe with late comeback to claim World Cup


John Tavares hit the post on a wide open net. Steven Stamkos whiffed on a one-time slap shot attempt. And Team Europe shut down every other player wearing red and white — for about 57 minutes.

Yup. It looked like it would be that kind of night for Team Canada.

After running through the World Cup competition during the round robin and semifinal portions, Canada was facing the possibility it could suddenly be forced into a third and decisive game against an underdog Team Europe.

Cue an improbable comeback.

Down 1-0 and finding it difficult to get anything going offensively, it started for Team Canada with a power play goal on a deflection from Patrice Bergeron. And then, with 44 seconds remaining in regulation time, the Canadians struck again, this time on the penalty kill, as Jonathan Toews set up Brad Marchand for what turned out to be the winning goal.

Team Canada, which has won back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics, claims the World Cup, winning Game 2 on Thursday by a final score of 2-1. Sidney Crosby was named tournament MVP.

As per David Amber of Sportsnet, Crosby joins Joe Sakic as the only two players to win the World Cup, Olympic gold, world championships, world juniors, Stanley Cup, Hart Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Team Canada had surged by its opponents thanks to such a deep, skilled lineup and the goaltending of Carey Price. But after taking the first game of this best-of-three series, the Canadians looked completely out of sync in the second act.

They weren’t the faster team, especially in the first period.

They turned the puck over. They gave up too many odd-man rushes. Their power play didn’t capitalize — until it mattered the most.

If it weren’t for the play of Price, this one could’ve been a blowout. His best save came off Marian Hossa late in the third period.

Since the elimination of Team USA, Team North America, Team Russia and Team Sweden, it seemed like the drama would be drained from this tournament as it came to its close, the Canadians looking like a runaway champion.

The final seemed like it was only a formality.

For a long time Thursday, it looked like Team Europe could actually force a Game 3. But Canada has found another way to win.

But this time, it was far from a dominant effort.

Green headed back to coach Utica, after ‘it came right down to the wire’ with the Anaheim Ducks


Travis Green felt he was ready to be a head coach in the NHL, and he came very close to landing the job in Anaheim.

But the Ducks decided instead to bring back Randy Carlyle, so Green will be headed back to Utica for a fourth straight season to coach the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Comets.

“I think it came right down to the wire,” Green told The Province newspaper. “They had to make a tough decision and they went with a guy who has had success in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup (Anaheim, 2007). He’s a very good coach and I have a lot of respect for a lot of coaches, and you hope one day that you find a fit.”

Green is only 45 years old, so he’s got time to be patient. But he’s only got a year left on his contract with the Canucks, and that will only lead to more speculation about his future. Expect his name to be front and center next offseason should any NHL jobs become available. It might even happen sooner, depending what happens this year in Vancouver.

“Timing is everything. It’s not a sprint for me,” Green said. “There’s a reason I went to junior (Portland) for five years and a reason I went to the AHL and have stayed on as a head coach. I talk about the process a lot and I preach it.”

Stars sign Mattias Backman to one-year, two-way deal

CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 5:  Mattias Backman #5 of Team Sweden skates with the puck during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Gold Medal game against Team Russia at the Scotiabank Saddledome on January 5, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Team Sweden defeated Team Russia 1-0 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

When it comes to improving the Dallas Stars’ defense from within, they at least have a decent array of young options.

Whether those young options actually pan out remains to be seen, yet they’re giving themselves an array of choices, especially after retaining Mattias Backman via a one-year, two-way deal on Thursday.

Here’s a blurb about the decent-sized blueliner, via the Stars:

Backman has earned 36 points (8-28=36) in 90 career AHL contests with the Texas Stars and Grand Rapids Griffins. The defenseman has appeared in 16 career games in the Calder Cup Playoffs, registering nine points (1-8=9) and 18 shots on goal. Backman also won a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship with Team Sweden, skating alongside current Dallas Stars John Klingberg and Patrik Nemeth.

That last bit can’t hurt, as familiarity could at least improve his chances of gaining a depth position or call-up opportunities.

His Hockey’s Future analysis gives you the impression that he presents “more of the same” for the Stars:

Talent Analysis

Despite his size, Backman doesn’t play a particularly physical or powerful game. He is a simple, economical defenseman who makes the smart play and knows to play within himself. He’s an excellent skater for his size, makes a good first pass and makes good decisions with and without the puck. He won’t wow you, but he won’t often be beat or get caught cheating either.

The Stars likely hope that he can develop into another decent option, especially if they decide against splashy moves this summer.


Stars love their young defensemen

Canada names Ducharme world junior head coach

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 26:  Anthony Duclair #10 of Team Canada celebrates his goal with teammates Shea Theodore #6 and Darnell Nurse #25 during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game against Team Slovakia at the Bell Centre on December 26, 2014 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Hockey Canada has found the man responsible for getting its junior team back into the medals.

Dominique Ducharme, an assistant to Dave Lowry on the team that finished sixth at this year’s tourney, will be behind the Canadian bench for the 2017 WJC tournament in Montreal and Toronto, per the Canadian Press.

Ducharme, 43, has spent his entire coaching career in the Quebec League, first as an assistant in Montreal, followed a head coaching gig in Halifax — where he worked with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Nikolaj Ehlers.

This spring, Ducharme took the bench boss gig in Drummondville.

A former teammate of Tim Thomas and Martin St. Louis at the University of Vermont, Ducharme played a handful of games in the AHL and ECHL before transitioning to coaching.

Ducharme’s biggest accomplishment as a bench boss was capturing the Memorial Cup with Halifax three years ago.

Since World Juniors disappointment, Virtanen has been ‘a different player’ for Canucks

Vancouver Canucks' Jake Virtanen, left, checks Ottawa Senators' Dion Phaneuf during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Remember when Jake Virtanen returned from the World Juniors in Finland and there was that big controversy in Vancouver over the headline in the local tabloid that read “Goat-medal winner”?

Well, it’s only been a couple of months since then, but opinions about the big, 19-year-old winger have improved considerably.

“I don’t know what happened there, but when he came back, for me, he was a different player,” Canucks forward Daniel Sedin told Postmedia.

Not only has Virtanen scored five times in 22 games since Canada’s disappointing finish in Helsinki, he’s been defensively responsible and physically engaged, mixing it up with the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Ryan Kesler, and Drew Doughty.

Wednesday night against Arizona, he leveled the Coyotes’ Connor Murphy:

That same game, he played a season-high 16:55 and assisted on the overtime winner by Markus Granlund:

In other words, Virtanen is starting to emerge into the kind of player the Canucks envisioned when they drafted him sixth overall in 2014.

“I want to be a guy that’s just a hard, honest player,” he told PHT recently. “Coming back from World Juniors…it’s nice to have the coach’s confidence in me to trust me. I felt management trusted me, so it was nice to come back and start to produce slowly. I’ve got to keep on doing that.”