Хроника Хоккея


Pressure mounts for Canada
26.12.2005.Spencer, Donna. The Globe and Mail

 Winning back-to-back gold medals is no easy task for Canadians at tourney

The last time Canada won back-to-back world junior hockey championships was in 1996 and 1997, and that ended a run of five in a row.

The 2006 junior men's hockey team has the opportunity to make it two in a row again after a dominating performance by Canada at the 2005 tournament in Grand Forks, N.D.

But this Canadian team will have to overachieve to win it because the United States and Russia have more depth of talent. Canada is young and has one player with previous experience at the world under-20 championship.

"I think the pressure, it's unreal," said defenceman Cam Barker, who is the lone veteran player. "Everyone wanting us to repeat and us wanting to repeat, it hasn't happened in a long time in Canada. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Canada will open defence of its title today against Finland at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. The Canadians and the Finns are in Group A with the United States, Switzerland and Norway, while Group B contains Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia and Latvia.

Canada will meet Switzerland on Wednesday and Norway on Thursday and finish the round robin against the Americans on Saturday in what will be a pivotal game for Canada. TSN will carry all of Canada's games.

The top three teams in each group will advance to the playoffs, but the real goal is to finish first because those teams get a bye past the quarter-final.

Canadian head coach Brent Sutter wasn't thinking that far ahead.

"I might be a stuck record on that, but our only focus right now is to get ourselves ready for Dec. 26," he said at the end of the team's selection camp. "We'll worry about the second game when it comes."

The Finns were a young team that had trouble scoring in Grand Forks and they finished fifth after four consecutive years on the podium.

Finland should do better in the scoring department, as National Hockey League first-round draft picks Lauri Tukonen (Los Angeles Kings), Petteri Nokalainen (New York Islanders) and Lauri Korpiskoski (New York Rangers) are a year older. Goaltender Tuuka Rask is a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Of all the European teams, Finland plays with the most emotion and also plays the most physical game.

"We have a feeling for how the Finns play," Sutter said. "I saw them last year and I've had people that have been watching them over there. You get enough scouting reports on players.

"They play as close to a North American style as you're going to see a European team play."

Canada has Sutter, coaching the junior team for a second year in a row, and home advantage going for it.

The players can feed off the adrenalin of playing before fans who support this tournament more than those of other countries. They are playing on the smaller North American ice surface they are accustomed to in their own leagues, while many of the Europeans play on a larger ice surface.

The Canadians also avoid the transatlantic flights and jet leg that drain a team's legs at the end of the gruelling tournament.

Sutter won Stanley Cup and Canada Cup titles as an NHL player and coached the Red Deer Rebels to a Memorial Cup in just the second year after he bought the club. He is a master at getting the most out of his players because they respect him and what he has accomplished in his career.

Sutter doesn't explain his decisions a lot, other than to say it's important to read the situation and then react.

"You've got to go on instincts," he said. "Everything shouldn't be by the book."

He'll want his team to make the defensive side of the game a priority.

The Canadian team doesn't yet have one offensively explosive line, but demonstrated in an 8-1 exhibition win over Russia last Thursday it is capable of spreading the scoring around up front.

Michigan freshman Andrew Cogliano and North Dakota forward Jonathan Toews, 17, proved themselves dynamic players in the pretournament camp, but scoring by committee must continue.

Justin Pogge's stellar performance against the Russians sealed his status as Canada's No. 1 goaltender. He came up with some highlight saves when the Russians beat Canada's defenders.

The Canadian blueline has size and moves the puck well, but the defencemen have to be savvy with their position play and be careful not get beaten one-on-one.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has followed the NHL and Canadian Hockey League in instructing its officials to crack down on obstruction and hooking at this tournament. IIHF president Rene Fasel says the world junior tournament will be a test of that decree.

This tournament could see different standards of officiating from game to game, so special teams will be key to the Canadians' fortunes, whether it's taking advantage of the power play or killing penalties.

Half of this team is 18 years old and Toews is 17, which means Canada will have a lot of experience to draw on for the 2007 world junior championship in Sweden.

But Hockey Canada's director of player personnel, Blair Mackasey, said this team was not put together with next year in mind.

"I don't accept that, the Canadian public wouldn't accept that and Hockey Canada won't accept that," Mackasey said. "We're Canada. Our standard is gold, and every tournament we go into, we go into with the intention of competing for a gold medal."

Первая страничка молодежных чемпионатов мира 2006 года
Подгруппа А - подробнее
Канада, США, Финляндия, Швейцария, Норвегия
Подгруппа В - подробнее
Россия, Чехия, Швеция, Словакия, Латвия
За 7-10 места - подробнее
Швейцария, Словакия, Латвия, Норвегия
1/4 финала - подробнее
Швеция - Финляндия
США - Чехия
1/2 финала - подробнее
Канада - Финляндия
Россия - США
Финал - подробнее
За 5 место. Швеция - Чехия
За 3 место. Финляндия - США
За 1 место. Канада - Россия
Страничка статистики

Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2006 года.