Five times golden; With win over Sweden, search for six begins
06.01.2009. Scanlan, Wayne. The Ottawa Citizen

 It wasn't even close.

Fans looking for drama from the finale of the 2009 world junior hockey championship will instead have to rewind the DVD of Canada's semifinal against Russia.

The gold-medal game?

Hardly in doubt. Canada seized control of Sweden in the opening minute and did not waver in a 5-1 victory for a fifth consecutive gold medal.

Already decked in red and white for the party, fans in Scotiabank Place erupted in joy they haven't known.

Swedish forward Magnus Svensson Paajarvi had suggested earlier in the tournament that the Canadians might soil their pants if they got behind 2-0, with all the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd.

He qualified it by adding his team would be in just as much trouble down by two early because they'd have to face the Canadians as well as a screaming crowd. That was what the Swedes encountered as they were down by a pair early in the second period. Though they finally put some pressure on the Canadian net after Canada got into some penalty trouble in the latter half of the period, the Swedes could not jam a puck home until the third period.

Too late.

Surprisingly, the Swedes posed little of the threat the Russians did on Saturday night, when they pounced on loose pucks and pumped five goals past Dustin Tokarski on the way to a dramatic shootout victory by Canada. However, the Canadians didn't offer much room, Tokarski included.

Along the path to a fifth title in a row, Canada's cliched goal was to "get better every game."

That was certainly true of Angelo Esposito, who saved his best two games for last. A nice complement to John Tavares, Esposito brought energy to the medal round, as though he wasn't about to miss out on the fun after being released at three previous Canadian junior team tryouts.

Early in the second period, Esposito drove to the front of the net from the corner and roofed a backhand past a startled Jacob Markstrom in the Swedish net. This was just moments after Esposito had collided with the goaltender, sending him flying -- though he seemed to help it along -- causing defenceman Victor Hedman to punch Esposito.

Markstrom was at it again a few minutes later, colliding with Canadian forward Stefan Della Rovere, which catapulted Markstrom yet again.

By now the crowd had identified two villains in yellow: Hedman and Markstrom. Both were booed mercilessly every time they touched the puck.

"They've been tested, and somehow found a way to be victorious in the end," Quinn said before the game. "Maybe it's lucky, maybe it's skill, maybe it's fate, I don't know."

Steeled and calmed by an early goal, the Canadians dominated the first period, rarely getting into trouble and keeping the Swedes on the outside.

Though the Swedes put 12 shots on Tokarski, to Canada's 13 at the other end, most were harmless.

From the first shift, the Swedes got into trouble. In a meaningless scrum in front of Markstrom, Swedish forward star Mikael Backlund tossed John Tavares to the ice in a fit of exuberance.

Just 22 seconds into the championship game, Canada was on the power play and made it count. Defenceman P.K. Subban drove the net and then finished the play by jamming in a loose puck from a scramble.

How do you spell ideal?

A goal at the 38-second mark, that's how.

It got the crowd into the game, pumped up the Canadian bench, and caused the Swedes to wonder what had happened.

In advance, the Canadian juniors had no shortage of support, including the usual flood of and letters. Steve Yzerman, Team Canada's 2010 executive director who helped lead Canada to Olympic gold in 2002 among his other accomplishments as a player, spoke to the players in the room on the morning of the golden game.

"I told them to keep cool, I don't exactly know how you do that, though," Yzerman said, with a smile.

The former Nepean Raider went on to stress the importance of finding a way to relax.

"It's important to do that in order to maintain your energy, but also to maintain your focus on the game," Yzerman said. "It's not an easy thing to do."

Mark Messier, the former New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers captain, advised the players via speaker phone to rise to the occasion as though this were Game 7 of a playoff.

From the opening faceoff, the Canadians had no trouble playing for the moment.

As it turned out, they did most of their heavy lifting just getting here. The Russians, though scary throughout, failed to clear their zone properly, icing the puck when they had a chance to ice the game. In the preliminary round's final game, the U.S. players got cocky after being up 3-0.

Fatal errors.

It was the story of the tournament. While their opponents made the critical mistakes, the Canadians stayed on course. It wasn't always pretty. But, for most of the tournament and all of last night, there was little doubt that Canada was about to move beyond the drive for five -- and on to the Search for Six in Saskatoon and Regina. 

1 Канада 6 5 1 0 0 46-12 17
2 Швеция 6 5 0 0 1 27-11 15
3 Россия 7 5 0 1 1 32-18 16
4 Словакия 7 2 1 0 4 22-28 8
5 США 6 3 1 0 2 34-19 11
6 Чехия 6 2 0 1 3 23-22 7
Подгруппа А
Канада, США, Чехия, Германия, Казахстан
Подгруппа В
Швеция, Финляндия, Россия, Словакия, Латвия
За 7-10 места
Финляндия, Латвия, Германия, Казахстан

1/4 финала
США - Словакия
Россия - Чехия

1/2 финала
Швеция - Словакия
Канада - Россия

США - Чехия
Россия - Словакия
Канада - Швеция
Первая страничка турнира
Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2009 года.
Первая страничка
Дивизион I. Группа А
Дивизион I. Группа B
Дивизион II. Группа А
Дивизион II. Группа B