Canada Win the Hockey 2015 World Junior Championship
Canada won the Hockey 2015 World Junior Championship beating Russia 5-4 in the final, their first gold medal in six years. It was close, very close, with Canada pulling out an early 2-0 lead in the first period of the gold medal game in Toronto, and then watched their lead gradually fall away, in fits and starts, over the course of three periods. The Canadians almost faltered, almost lost, embarrassingly at that, but for the Russians it was not to be. In the end, though, the crowd at the Air Canada Centre, along with those watching across the country at home, was appeased. The lead held, only just, and the gold returned to Canada, its first medal at the tournament in two years, and its first gold in six.
Slovakia defeated Sweden in the bronze medal game to win their second-ever medal. Slovak goaltender Denis Godla was named the tournament’s most valuable player, while Sam Reinhart of Canada was the top scorer of the Tournament with 11 goals.
Of all the teams that took part in this years finals, Denmark really did impress even if the did only manage a victory in their match against Switzerland and were eliminated 8-0 in the Quarter-final match against the winners Canada. They finished fourth in Group B with only a 0-1-2-1 record (that is, no wins, one loss and a few overtime finishes), but elements of their game were worth watching. Specifically: Halifax Mooseheads prospect, Nikolaj Ehlers, who was drafted to the Winnipeg Jets ninth overall in 2014 and Oliver Bjorkstrand, drafted one year earlier to Columbus.
They were particularly effective in Denmark’s game against the Czech Republic in the waning hours of 2014, which they pushed to a shootout. Ehlers, a speedy winger, who spends his time right now with the Halifax Mooseheads, nabbed two assists, and Bjorkstrand, of the Portland Winterhawks, walked away with a goal in the effort. That doesn’t tell the entire story, though. Together, sharing a line, they dominated virtually every shift.
There were moments of beauty from them both in Denmark’s 4-3 win against Switzerland, too. Nobody’s going to argue that Denmark is the new heart of hockey, but when they were in a few tough situations this tournament (the Czech game is the most pertinent example), the Danes held their own, and more. And while they may not be the future of the sport, only two of their 23 players have been drafted, there are some things that hint at a good future. Watching goaltender Georg Sorensen, for instance, gradually emerge from essentially behind his own goal line at the start of the first period on 29 December, into a reasonably confident butterfly position, and turn away 43 of 47 shots the Czech’s fired at him was enough to bring some hope.
The tournament has been dominated by the teams from Russia/Soviet Union and Canada, together accounting for 29 of the 39 overall gold medals awarded since 1977 (the 1974 to 1976 editions, were not official tournaments), with Canada now leading the all-time gold medal count with 16: whereas the USSR/Russia leads the all-time overall medal count with 32. All bodes well for the next edition, to be held in Helsinki in 2016, where the best tipsters in the world would remind us to “Not underestimate the Danes”.