Team Canada, consisting of a group of Canadian
college students and two former NHL draft picks,
captured the gold medal over Russia at the 23rd
Winter Universiade in Torino, Italy.
Bill Meltzer | NHL.com correspondent
Jan 31, 2007, 12:00 PM EST
Rematch for the gold
Still smarting from an underachieving preliminary round, Team Finland reverted to the defensively solid, team-oriented approach they have ridden to success at other levels of international hockey competition. The Canadians got a bit frustrated and took nine penalties in a whistle-happy game, but their stellar penalty killing rose to the challenge on each occasion.
Canada struck first on the man advantage, as Fornier fed his University of Moncton teammate Pierre-Luc Laprise for a slap shot past Finnish goalie Joonas Hallikainen (a Jokerit Helsinki backup keeper now with minor-league club KooKoo Kouvola). The Canadians nursed their slim 1-0 lead until the middle stages of the game when Pesonen once again stepped to the forefront for Finland. The forward picked the pocket of a Canadian defender and had an unimpeded shot at Drew, beating him to the glove side.
The game remained knotted at a goal apiece until midway through the third period. Finally, McAllister fired a lead pass that found University of New Brunswick's Darryl Boyce in full stride. The forward went in on Hallikainen and snapped a shot over the glove to give Canada a 2-1 lead. The Canadians protected the lead the rest of the way, with Drew making several key saves down the stretch to preserve the win.
In the other semifinal, Russia proved too much for the game Kazakhs to handle. The Russian students methodically controlled the game against their former Soviet countrymen to grind out a 3-0 lead before Kazakhstan finally scored in the latter stages to end the shutout. In the first period, Andrei Rychagov gave Russia the lead. The narrow margin held until the third period, when a pair of Russian goals broke the game open.
As with the World Junior Championships earlier this month, the stage was now set for a Canada vs. Russia showdown for the gold medal. With consecutive gold medals under their belts and numerous players with experience in Russian pro leagues, the Russian squad figured to pose a strong threat for a three-peat. The Canadians knew that firsthand after the Russians came from behind against them on the last day of the preliminaries.
"We saw what it's really going to take the beat them," McAllister told the Canadian Press. "I think it was a wakeup call that we needed to have."
Canada fired the first salvo on the opening shift of the game. Just 18 seconds after the opening faceoff, Rob Hennigar took a lead pass from defenseman Scott Hotham of St. Mary's University and snapped a shot past Maxim Koryakin to give Canada a quick 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Hotham scored on the power play to extend the lead to 2-0.
The two-goal lead held until late in the second period. As he did in the round-robin meeting, Andrei Rychagov keyed the Russians by beating Drew, narrowing the deficit to 2-1. The Russians pressed the attack early in the third period, but the Canadians stood firm. As fatigue set in, the Russians started to take a series of penalties that ultimately derailed their comeback hopes.
Canada's gold medal roster
Coached by St. Mary's University head coach Trevor Steinburg, Team Canada won its first Winter Universiade gold medal since 1991. The squad featured three of Steinburg's players on the Huskies. The University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University was even more heavily represented with four players apiece.
Rob Hennigar and Karl Fournier led the Canadian squad with nine points apiece (four goals, five assists each), while Brandon Benedict led all tournament goal scorers with six goals. Goaltender Paul Drew finished with a 0.73 goals-against average and .964 save percentage in six starts.
Here is the roster breakdown for the victorious squad:
Jon Ceci (G) - Acadia University
Paul Drew (G) - University of Prince Edward Island
Aaron Molnar (G) - St. Thomas University
Anthony Butera (D) - St. Thomas University
Dustin Friesen (D) - University of New Brunswick
Scott Hotham (D) - Saint Mary's University
Louis Mandeville (D) - University de Moncton
Brandon Roach (D) - Acadia University
Sam Roberts (D) - St. Francis Xavier
Ian Turner (D) - St. Thomas University
Brandon Benedict (F) - Acadia University
Darryl Boyce (F) - University of New Brunswick
Pierre-Andre Bureau (F) - Universitý de Moncton
Karl Fournier (F) - Universitý de Moncton
Rob Hennigar (F) - University of New Brunswick
Pierre-Luc Laprise (F) - Universitý de Moncton
Stuart MacRae (F) - St. Francis Xavier
Kyle McAllister (F) - St. Thomas University
Marc Rancourt (F) - Saint Mary's University
Dan Rudisella (F) - Saint Mary's University
Colin Sinclair (F) - University of New Brunswick
Tom Zanoski (F) - Dalhousie University