COLOGNE, Germany – The atmosphere was tense after 40 minutes of play in Canada’s locker room Saturday at the World Hockey Championship, as they fell behind 2-0. A joke however lightened the atmosphere and allowed the double defending champions to regain their concentration, en route to a victory 4-2 win in the semi-finals against Russia.
“When we entered the locker room, there was a bit of tension,” said Canada’s head coach Jon Cooper. Then someone started a joke: ‘That’s OK guys. They are exactly where we wanted them to be. ‘ It calmed everyone down a bit.
“We took a deep breath, got out of the locker room and scored (immediately) on the power play. One felt that a weight had just been removed from their shoulders. We then played a third wild period. ”
In total, they scored four unanswered goals at the Lanxess arena in Cologne, Germany, for the gold medal game. Canada will have the opportunity to win a third consecutive world title against Sweden on Sunday, which took Finland 4-1 at the end of the day in the other semifinal.
“I was extremely fortunate as a coach to lead in the National Hockey League and the Stanley Cup Final,” said Cooper, who is leading Canada for the first time. It was one of the biggest hockey games I played. ”
Russia, meanwhile, will struggle with Finland for the bronze medal.
Canada dominated Russia 19-4 in penalties in the third period and put pressure on goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Mark Scheifele narrowed the gap to a goal after only 17 seconds of play, then Nate MacKinnon then created the tie with five minutes to make the dial.
Ryan O’Reilly shook the ropes with just three minutes left to play the game, and Sean Couturier sealed the outcome by shooting in a desert net in the final moments of the game.
“I think we focused on finding the spark during the second intermission,” O’Reilly said. We needed to cling to something, whether it was a scoring opportunity or a goal. ”
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nikita Gusev set the tone with a goal each in the second period for Russia.
“We spent the first period trying to recover our sensations,” said Canadian forward Wayne Simmonds. The second period – we were unrecognizable. We wanted to show what kind of wood we were warming up. That’s what we did in third. ”
Canada has not won three consecutive world titles in this tournament since the early 1950s. The Czech Republic is the last to have accomplished the feat between 1999 and 2001.