Team Canada at the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
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Team Canada entered the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships with only one returning veteran from the 2005 gold medal winning squad: Cam Barker. Canada's coach Brent Sutter was given the task of leading a relatively anonymous group of junior players on home ice in Vancouver.
Before any of the games had been played, Canada was not counted on as a strong medal contender. The consensus choice as best team of the tournament was Russia, featuring young guns Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Radulov. To counter the offensive firepower of some of the other team's in the tournament, Sutter built a team that focused on team defense, strong forechecking and hard work.
Team Canada's selection camp opened up December 11, 2005, in Vancouver. As the player's first introduction to coach Sutter's style, they were informed that they would be required to get haircuts. Sutter is not a fan of his player's having sideburns or long hair sticking out the back of their helmets. The competition for roster spots was basically wide open, with only one returning player (Barker). Some notable cuts from the team were QMJHL phenom Angelo Esposito, and goaltender Carey Price. Team Canada broke camp with a starting goalie (Justin Pogge) who had not even been in the mix during the summer evaluation camp. Pogge was having a red hot season with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen and forced his way into the mix for the tournament.
Team Canada games
Game 1 vs. Finland
Team Canada opened the tournament on Boxing Day against Finland at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. At the time, it was a showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs top goaltending prospects. Justin Pogge for Canada and Tuukka Rask for Finland. Dustin Boyd scored two goals for Canada, while Blake Comeau, David Bolland and Team Canada captain Kyle Chipchura added singles. Andrew Cogliano contributed two assists. The Team Canada power play rolled along at a 25% clip, going 2 for 8.
Justin Pogge made 16 saves for the win, while Rask was considerably busier stopping 26 shots in the loss. Dustin Boyd was named Team Canada's player of the game, while Aki Seitsonen, who scored Finland's lone goal was also honored.
Game 2 vs. Switzerland
In their second game of the tournament, Team Canada found themselves in a tougher battle than they expected with the gritty Swiss. Pogge again got the start in goal for Canada, with Reto Berra manning the crease for Switzerland. Canada took 10 minor penalties in the game, while the Swiss took 11. Switzerland's Eric Blum opened the scoring on a two man advantage in the first period. Steve Downie tied it up later in the first period and also contributed an assist on Dustin Boyd's go ahead goal late in the period. Canada got two goals in the second period from Tom Pyatt and David Bolland to go up 4-1. Yannick Weber scored for Switzerland to leave Canada with a 2 goal lead heading into the 3rd period. Early in the third, Marc Staal was in the penalty box when Julien Sprunger scored to bring Switzerland within one goal. Canada held on after this for a hard fought 4-3 win, helped out by two late penalties the Swiss took in the period.
Steve Downie was named Canada's player of the game, while goalie Berra took the honor for the Swiss.
Something to prove
- 21 of the 22 players on the team were already NHL draft picks, and the other -- Jonathan Toews—was strongly touted to be one of the top three picks in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
- Steve Downie had just been traded to the Peterborough Petes from the Windsor Spitfires, where he was embroiled in a hazing scandal involving a fight with Akim Aliu during a practice; he searched for his redemption and this seemed to be the only way how.
- Cameron Barker, a returnee from the Chicago Blackhawks, was the only player on the team who had been on the 2005 team that won gold in Grand Forks, North Dakota, but he was sick with mononucleosis and missed nearly the entire tournament.
- Kyle Chipchura had to prove his leadership skills when he was chosen to be the captain of Team Canada.
- Marc Staal became the first in his family of four brothers to play for Team Canada.
- Luc Bourdon had to show the Vancouver fans that he was very talented, since he was the first-round pick of the Canucks in 2005.
- David Bolland was a late cut of the team in 2005.
The final game
Defying everyone's expectations, Team Canada survived the semi-final game, blanking Team Finland 4-0. However, there was much speculation that the talents of Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Radulov, as well as the stellar goaltending of Minnesota Wild draft pick Anton Khudobin, would be too much for Canada to bear. One person who seemed to have faith in Canada was Wayne Gretzky, who predicted a 6-1 win for Canada (the same score as in the 2005 final) and the winning goal would be scored by Steve Downie.
The gold medal game was played before a crowd of 18,620 people. At 17:12 of the first period, Downie scored the first goal of the game. By the second period, the score was 4-0 in favour of Canada, thanks to two goals by Michael Blunden and one by Blake Comeau. The Russians nearly scored when it seemed that the puck was in the Canadian net, but the goal lamp did not go on. The goal was disallowed. In the third period, captain Kyle Chipchura scored to make the score 5-0. When the game was over, that score stood. The winning goal had been scored by Downie, but the final score was a bit different.
At the final buzzer, Team Canada immediately came off the bench and a sea of white jumped on top of goalie Justin Pogge. The Russians cried; so did some of the Canadians. The most notable crying Canadian was Benoit Pouliot, who eventually collapsed into the arms of his Sudbury Wolves teammate Marc Staal and of Guillaume Latendresse, who represented the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL.
Awards and accomplishments
- Dustin Boyd led Canada in goal scoring.
- Blake Comeau led Canada in point scoring.
- Marc Staal was named the tournament's top defenceman.
- Justin Pogge was named the tournament MVP; he had a 1.00 GAA and a .953 save percentage.
- Andrew Cogliano (Woodbridge, Ontario; University of Michigan; drafted 25th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005)
- Benoît Pouliot (St. Isidore, Ontario; Sudbury Wolves; drafted 4th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2005)
- Blake Comeau (Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan; Kelowna Rockets; drafted 47th overall by the New York Islanders in 2004)
- Cam Barker (Winnipeg, Manitoba; Medicine Hat Tigers; drafted 3rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004)
- Dan Bertram (Calgary, Alberta; Boston College; drafted 54th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005)
- David Bolland (Mimico, Ontario; London Knights; drafted 32nd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004)
- Devan Dubnyk (Calgary, Alberta; Kamloops Blazers; drafted 14th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2004)
- Dustin Boyd (Winnipeg, Manitoba; Moose Jaw Warriors; drafted 98th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2004)
- Guillaume Latendresse (Ste. Catherine, Quebec; Drummondville Voltigeurs; drafted 45th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2005)
- Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Manitoba; University of North Dakota; drafted 3rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2006)
- Justin Pogge (Penticton, British Columbia; Calgary Hitmen; drafted 90th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2004)
- Kris Russell (Caroline, Alberta; Medicine Hat Tigers; drafted 67th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005)
- Kristopher Letang (Laval, Quebec; Val-d'Or Foreurs; drafted 62nd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005)
- Kyle Chipchura (Vimy, Alberta; Prince Albert Raiders; drafted 18th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2004)
- Luc Bourdon (Shippagan, New Brunswick; Val-d'Or Foreurs; drafted 10th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2005)
- Marc Staal (Thunder Bay, Ontario; Sudbury Wolves; drafted 12th overall by the New York Rangers in 2005)
- Michael Blunden (Gloucester, Ontario; Erie Otters; drafted 43rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005)
- Ryan O'Marra (Mississauga, Ontario; Erie Otters; drafted 15th overall by the New York Islanders)
- Ryan Parent (Sioux Lookout, Ontario; Guelph Storm; drafted 18th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2005)
- Sasha Pokulok (Montreal, Quebec; Cornell University; drafted 14th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2005)
- Steve Downie (Queensville, Ontario; Peterborough Petes; drafted 29th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005)
- Tom Pyatt (Thunder Bay, Ontario; Saginaw Spirit; drafted 107th overall by the New York Rangers in 2005)
- Alberta Edition Hockey Now. Today's player scores style points.
- Hockey Canada Game One Summary. Canada's Boyd Finishes Off Finns in Tournament Opener.
- Hockey Canada Game Two Summary. Canada Earns Narrow Victory Over Swiss.