Sports coaches – particularly hockey coaches – might want to point to last night’s Canada-Russia gold medal game anytime a team feels hopeless in a big hole. It really looked like the Canadian junior team had the gold wrapped up with a 3-0 lead in the third period, but the Russians went on an incredible run in the final frame to win 5-3.
It all started at the 17-minute mark when the Russians scored two goals only 13 seconds apart. That little flurry left the Canadians flat footed while the pro-Canada crowd in Buffalo couldn’t believe what they were seeing. By the time it was 3-3, it already seemed like the underdog Russians broke the spirit of the favored Canadians.
Artemi Panarin (two goals), Maxim Kitsyn, Vladimir Tarasenko and Nikita Dvurechenski scored those five unanswered goals in the absolutely stunning third period. (Note: the astounding rally begins at the four-minute mark of this video.)
The real treat in this clip comes from watching the over-the-top celebration by the Russian gold medal winners. As you can see via the screen capture from the video, the Russians frequently screamed into/grabbed the camera and often shouted things in their native language. It’s quite the hilarious sight … unless you’re a Canadian. Then the hilarity turns to sadness. (Sorry about that.)
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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.
In a rare moment for American hockey, the United States World Junior team went into tonight’s semifinal game against Canada as the prohibitive favorites. After all, the U.S. team boasted more returning players from last year’s gold medal winning team than the Canadians brought back from their runner-up squad.
Instead of earning the right to play in back-to-back gold medal games, the Americans were absolutely out-classed by the Canadians by a score of 4-1 in front of a pro-Great White North crowd in Buffalo.
Sometimes the scoreboard or box score doesn’t tell the story of a game, but in tonight’s contest, the Americans were lucky to only lose by three goals. The Canadian team dominated from the very beginning, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period as their opponents looked flat.
U.S. goalie Jack Campbell might be the only American who truly came to play for the red white and blue in this one, but he couldn’t pull a Jim Craig to keep them in a wildly out-matched contest. He made 37 out of 41 saves while his counterpart Mark Visentin had a leisurely night for the most part, stopping 22 out of 23 pucks.
Canada scored the first four goals, with Curtis Hamilton, Quinton Howden, Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian finding the net. Flower Mound, Texas native Chris Brown scored the lone U.S. goal when the game was well out of reach.
Team Canada will face their long-time international rivals from Russia in the gold medal game while the United States must settle for a bronze medal matchup against an angry Swedish team. Both games will take place on Wednesday and will be available to U.S. fans via the NHL Network.