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.