Team Canada's win a classic.
04.01.2009. Panzeri, Allen. The Gazette

 As the final seconds ticked down in last night's semifinal, Team Canada was resigning itself to a place in the bronze-medal game - definitely not what they wanted, and definitely not what the country expected.

The Russians were leading 5-4 and, seemingly, on their way to the gold-medal final of this year's IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

But then the unexpected, with a little bit of magic, happened.

Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats scored with 5.4 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 5-5, bringing the crowd of 19,327 at Scotiabank Place to its feet.

After a goalless overtime, Eberle, with his third goal of the game, and John Tavares, scored in the shootout.

Improbably, that gave Canada a 6-5 win and a chance to win its fifth straight world junior gold medal.

"I just could not believe it when we scored (late in the third period)," Belleville Bulls defenceman PK Subban said. "The emotions, you can't control it. You can't capture the moment.

"It was just another moment where, I can't believe this happened: on the verge of being kicked out of the tournament and then you're moving on.

"Sunday's a day that's going to be hard to capture. It won't sink in until after the tournament, that's for sure."

Team Canada goalie Dustin Tokarski of the Spokane Chiefs stopped the second Russian shooter, Pavel Chernov, while the first, Dmitri Kugryshev, hit the right post. It was vindication for Tokarski after having a lousy game.

The Canadians will play Sweden for gold, while the Russians will play Slovakia in the bronze-medal game.

Eberle said he wasn't even thinking when the puck landed on his stick with seconds left. There wasn't time.

"It's too quick of a play to think: 'I've got to make this or it's over,' " he said.

"I just kind of brought my stick back. You just play like it's any other game and try to put it in.

"Maybe if I sit down and think about it, it'll hit me. But when a time that like comes, when they score and there's two minutes left, the only thing I think about is the opportunity to be out there and change the game.

"It's an awesome time to be out there, with two minutes left and you're down by one. You can either make or break it."

Tokarski was out of the net for an extra attacker when Eberle scored his tying goal, but it looked like it was over for Canada at that point.

Only two minutes before, Dmitri Klopov, who plays for Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo in the Continental Hockey League, got his second goal of the game to put Russia ahead 5-4. It was the first lead Russia had in the game.

"I've been in this business a long time," said Team Canada head coach Pat Quinn. "But I don't know if you ever get used to those ups-and-downs."

Defenceman Maxim Goncharov, a 2007 draft choice of the Phoenix Coyotes, Evengi Grachev of the Brampton Battalion, and Sergei Andronov, with a power-play goal, also scored for the Russians.

Brett Sonne of the Calgary Hitmen, Patrice Cormier of the Rimouski OcEanic, and Angelo Esposito of the Montreal Juniors, with a short-handed goal, also scored for Team Canada.

Russian head coach Sergei Nemchinov said Eberle's tying goal was crushing.

"It was difficult, very difficult," he said. "What can I say? We skated well, we moved the puck well. I can only say what I said to my team in the locker room. I am very proud of my team."

Whether Tokarski, who faced 28 shots, is in net for the gold-medal game is the question. He wasn't at all happy with his performance and relieved his teammates bailed him out.

"I've got to make more saves than that for Team Canada," he said. "I've got to be better. I let them down good during the game. Hopefully, I made up for it by getting the win.

"Obviously, it was a lot of relief to win. We were within five seconds of not playing for the gold medal, but it was a great effort by Eberle there, the guys bared down in the shootout, and I made a couple of saves."

Tavares said the bench was on edge during the shootout.

"It's tense, it's tense," he said. "You've got 20,000 Canadians standing up and watching, and everyone (on the bench)

either can't really watch or has their eyes closed or their heads down, or just grabbing onto each other and praying for pucks to go in and pucks to stay out." 

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