Canada is going for gold, again.
The difference, however, is the storyline behind this WJHC journey. Team Canada defeated the unbeaten Americans today 4-1 in the semi-finals and will face the Swedes in the gold medal match tomorrow.
Still with last year’s shootout battle fresh in their minds, both teams stepped on the ice with something to prove. U.S.A needed to show that their 4-0 record so far was for real, while Canada needed to step up their offense and solidify their tournament dominance.
Although the match was not as thrilling as last year, it still had its moments.
Even after an early onslaught by the Americans, goaltender Steve Mason and his teammates managed to keep the score tied at zero after one. That’s when Canada turned on their game.
First Shawn Matthias opened the scoring in the second with a strong drive, then Karl Alzner blasted a powerplay slapper past U.S.A. goaltender Jeremy Smith. Canada was up 2-0 heading into the third, and looking like the better team. But unlike the Sweden round robin game, the Canadians did not sit back.
Instead, they added two goals in 20 seconds with tallies from Colton Gillies and Brad Marchand, putting the Americans down 4-0. Not only did the third period quick strike shatter any hopes for U.S.A. to come back, it also prompted the singing of ‘Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye’ from the one-sided Canadian crowd.
A late goal by the Americans did nothing as the nation north of the border moved one step closer to their goal, or as Stefan Legein says it, “One more, baby.”
Canada passed another test today but their next one will be even tougher. That’s because they are somewhat familiar with their upcoming opponents, Sweden.
This is not just another final game for these two teams, especially after their last meeting.
Canada will be looking for revenge, while Sweden will be backing up their round robin victory over the defending champions. The Swedes won 4-3, ending the 20 game winning streak of Canada and giving the team a fright they have rarely experienced in the past four years.
The upset will be on Team Canada’s mind, as this time, more will be on the line. Sweden has been dominant all tournament, but Canada will not be looking to lose again.
Sweden looked vulnerable with their slow start against Russia in the other semi-final, but managed to score the overtime tally for a 2-1 win. Robin Figren, Mikael Backlund and Patrik Berglund will lead the Swede attack, one that has the possibility to dismantle the Canadian defense.
Canada must focus on playing a team game, and not letting up. They must learn from their previous mistake of letting up and play strong the whole game. The road this year might be different, but this team is still in the same position.
Gold is on the line, and the team with the most heart will come out champions, with the sweet sounds of their nation’s anthem playing in the background and their country’s flag rising to the rafters. Who wants it more?