Canada rules the World and now they have the trophy to prove it.
Team Canada won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey Tuesday night, posting an emotional 3-2 victory over a very good Team Finland at the Air Canada Centre before a raucous sellout crowd that basked in the glow of their heroes’ triumph.
With the win in this eight-nation tournament, Team Canada has now strung together an impressive array of tournament victories on the international stage. Canada won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also has captured World Championship titles in both 2003 and 2004 before adding a perfect 6-0 mark in the World Cup to the impressive resume.
“You know, it always feels great to be able to win championships,” Canadian captain Mario Lemieux said. “Obviously the Stanley Cup is what we play for our whole life. Growing up, you dream about lifting that Stanley Cup at centre ice. It’s very special. But to be able to win a World championship, to go through a lot of adversity over the past month, getting yourself ready to play in the final game, it’s been a long journey for all of us.
“To be able to lift the (World) Cup is a great accomplishment for everybody that was involved, not only the players, but from Wayne (Gretzky) and Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini and Bob (Nicholson) and the coaching staff.”
Winning goalie Martin Brodeur echoed Lemieux’s sentiments.
“This is definitely ranking pretty high,” said Brodeur, who has three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal to his credit. “Every time you have success, it’s something you’ll never forget. And the way we dominated the tournament was probably the key for me. How many times are you going to be able to say you never lost a game?”
But the disappointed Finns also came away with some solace from having played so well in the World Cup.
“This is a big step for our hockey,” Finnish coach Raimo Summanen said. “We played here in Canada, in Toronto, and everybody could see that we are ready to fight. And five years ago, three years ago, two years ago, one year ago, this was a whole different mental approach for the team and I’m proud of that.”
“I’m proud of the players,” Summanen said. “Their attitude through this whole tournament was great. We made some mistakes tonight and I know we can play better.
“The Canadian team, they deserved to win. Great hockey team. What a hockey country and what a tradition. What players, coaches and management. I really respect their work.”
Just as the Finns earned the respect of the Canadians.
“We knew that the Finn team had the success it did have as a real strong team,” Canadian coach Pat Quinn said. “And they were very good again tonight. They forced us all over the ice. They used their quickness. You know, now that they have a great goaltender, they play with a lot of confidence.
“They don’t generate a lot of scoring chances, but geez, we give them two chances in the first, two chances in the second and they were 50 percent on both of them, so they were really competitive.”
This was not an easy victory for Team Canada by any stretch. Team Finland was one of the strongest entries in the tournament, backed by the exceptional goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames, clutch scoring and a tremendous overall work ethic. But Kiprusoff wasn’t on top of his game in the final and it proved costly.
“‘Kipper’, he didn’t have his best game,” Summanen admitted. “But our ‘D’ didn’t help either. We made a couple bad mistakes as a team.”
And those mistakes were deadly against the Canadians, who finished with a perfect 6-0 record in the tournament and boasted Martin Brodeur in goal and a superstar-studded lineup that evolved into a very effective team.
Canada’s Vincent Lecavalier, who ironically wasn’t named to the roster immediately, joining Canada after Steve Yzerman was unable to play because of injury, was named the most valuable player of the tournament. He had two goals and five assists in six games.
As Canada had done in the first two period, it scored early in the third period to take a 3-2 lead on Shane Doan’s first goal of the tournament.
Doan had been knocked to the ice in the left corner by Jere Lehtinen, but the Phoenix Coyotes’ captain didn’t give up on the play, instead regaining his feet and driving to the Finnish net. There, Boston Bruins’ captain Joe Thornton, stationed behind the Finnish net, fed Doan the puck. Instead of shooting on the fly, Doan held on, gained a stride on Kiprusoff and swept the puck into the net for a 3-2 lead.
“That was pretty special,” Doan said. “Being a part of this team is something I’ll never forget. This whole experience has been incredible.”
The line of Doan, Joe Thornton and Kris Draper was lauded by Canadian coach Pat Quinn for coming together as perhaps as the team’s best unit.
“To me, they were all good all series,” Quinn said. “From the time I put them together with the idea that I would use them against the better scoring lines of the opposition. You know, Joe was unknown on the defensive side of the game, yet he was really strong there. Draper was kind of the leader of them, and we all know how good he is on that side of the game. And Doan, who I didn’t know very much because we don’t see him a lot, really fit in well. He has a spirit about him, a big smile and a love to play and a really good skill level that fit in well to not only keep the other side off the scoreboard, but contribute offensively as well.”
The Finns followed the patter they had established in the first 40 minutes, refusing to panic after the Canadian goal and then responding with some offensive pressure of their own, forcing Brodeur, who showed no ill-effects from a hand injury that sidelined him for the semifinal-round game against the Czechs, to make some excellent saves.
“He’s a winner,” Finnish captain Teppo Numminen said. “He always plays great in the big games. For him to be in the net gives their whole team confidence.”
Team Canada got the Air Canada Centre rocking within the first minute of play as Joe Sakic scored off a sweet feed from Mario Lemieux just 52 seconds into the game.
Lemieux made a clever move faking past a Finnish defender to gain the zone and spotted Sakic breaking down the slot unchecked. His pass across was right on the tape and Sakic drilled the puck past Kiprusoff for a 1-0 Canadian lead.
The Finns tied the game, 1-1, at 6:34 as some sustained Finnish pressure paid off when Riku Hahl redirected a Toni Lydman shot from the high slot past a screened Brodeur.
Once tied, the Finns put their system into full force and repeatedly frustrated Team Canada’s attempt to break out of their zone, forcing icing call after icing call that slowed the pace considerably.
But the tactic worked for the Finns, who left the ice after one period with a 1-1 tie, with Canada holding the slim edge in saves, 9-7.
Scott Niedermayer restored Canada’s lead at 3:15 of the second period as Canada took advantage of slow developing 4-on-3 break. Niedermayer took the puck from Kris Draper in the left circle and wrested a shot between the pads of Kiprusoff, again setting off a thunderous celebration inside the arena.
Once again, the Finns regained their composure after the goal and put some pressure on the Canadian net, forcing Brodeur to make good saves against Jere Lehtinen from 15 feet out and then an off-balance shot from Niklas Hagman.
The Finns’ pressure paid off in a 2-2 tie at 19:00 of the second when Tuomo Ruutu scored off a wonderful individual effort in which he beat three Canadian checkers.
Gaining the Canadian zone with speed, Ruutu eluded Simon Gagne along the right-wing boards, then deked Jarome Iginla and finally caused Niedermayer to overcompensate and skate past him. Clear of the pack of red-clad defenders, Ruutu wristed the puck from the right circle past the glove hand of Brodeur.
00:52 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Sakic (Lemieux, Brewer)
06:34 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Hahl (Lydman, Berg)
16:38 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Selänne, interference
23:15 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Niedermayer (Draper, Thornton)
32:05 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Doan, tripping
39:00 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Ruutu (Lydman)
40:34 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Doan (Thornton, Foote)
W: 🇨🇦 Brodeur (27-29)
L: 🇫🇮 Kiprusoff (30-33)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇨🇦 9+12+12 = 33
🇫🇮 7+12+10 = 29
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo. Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Eric Brewer, Adam Foote (A), Scott Hannan, Scott Niedermayer, Robyn Regehr. Forwards: Shane Doan, Kris Draper, Simon Gagné, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla (A), Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux (C), Brad Richards, Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Martin St-Louis, Joe Thornton.
🇫🇮 Goaltenders: Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen. Defence: Aki-Petteri Berg, Toni Lydman, Teppo Numminen (A), Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Väänänen. Forwards: Mikko Eloranta, Niklas Hagman, Riku Hahl, Jukka Hentunen, Olli Jokinen, Niko Kapanen, Saku Koivu (C), Jere Lehtinen, Ville Peltonen, Jarkko Ruutu, Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selänne (A).
|🇨🇦 CANADA (C)||vs.||FINLAND 🇫🇮|
(since 25 Aug 2004)
||30 Apr 2003|
(+ 2 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. FIN)
🇨🇦 CAN 11-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 10 Mar 1951 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
|Previous IHLC Meeting (CAN vs. FIN)
🇨🇦 CAN 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 – 10 Feb 2000 – SHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 CZE 🇨🇿 (OT) – 11 Sep 2004 – WCH – Toronto 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 3-2 SUI 🇨🇭 (SO) – 09 Nov 2004 – SWC – Kreuzlingen 🇨🇭