There were no heart-stopping moments this time, or late game heroics. They weren’t needed. Team Canada dismantled the Swedes in the gold medal game of the world junior championships last night, winning 5-1 to take its fifth straight championship.
From the first minute, when defenceman P K Subban scored the opening goal, it was all Team Canada, which played a tough, albeit somewhat undisciplined game against a Swedish team that at times looked flat and wasn’t getting the lucky bounces. They were lucky to get out of the first period down by just one. “We knew we had to come out with our best game,” said Zach Boychuk. Getting that first goal “was huge,” he added.
Angelo Esposito scored a brilliant goal in the second, after wrestling the puck out of the corner, moving in front of the net and putting the puck over goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s shoulder. Despite a string of penalties late in the second, a rash of untimely broken sticks, Canada hung on to a two goal lead, and never let it go. “This was our best game tonight,” said coach Pat Quinn. “We played with skill.”
It was also one of Canada’s best defensive games.
Markstrom, normally Sweden’s star goalie, wasn’t doing his teammates any favours. He looked rattled, after being sent flying twice by Canadian players in the first two periods. After the second hit, he took a run (all the way to the red line) at Stefan Della Rovere, drawing a bad penalty and denying his team what could have been a game-changing two man-advantage. He was loudly booed every time he touched the puck.
He played better than the score would indicate. Two of the final goals were empty netters. But the real star was at the other end of the ice, Canadian goalie Justin Tokarski. “He was good from the start. He made those early saves,” said Quinn.
Team Canada’s John Tavares was named the tournament’s MVP.