Canada is on top of the hockey world. Period.
Connor McDavid raises the trophy as Team Canada celebrates its win over Team Russia during the gold medal game of 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships at the Air Canada Centre on January 5, 2015. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)
If anyone is still fretting over the state of Canada’s mens’ national teams in this country, future superstar Connor McDavid has a message for you.
Informed by Sun Media Monday night that both Canada’s Olympic and world junior teams had combined to go a perfect 13-0 in the two most prestigious hockey tournaments on the planet, the kid from Newmarket flashed a gold-medal smile that resonated from coast to coast.
“I didn’t know that,” McDavid said. “Pretty dominant, eh?
“I would have to say the sport’s in a pretty good state in this country.”
It certainly is, especially when you consider what the McDavids, the Max Domis, the Sidney Crosbys and the Drew Doughtys have accomplished over the past 48 weeks.
Back in March, the Canadian team defeated Sweden 3-0 in the title game at the Sochi Olympics to defend its title. In the process, Mike Babcock’s team went 6-0, outscoring the opposition 17-3.
Then, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, a group of feisty Canadian teenagers survived the threat posed by a dynamic Russian squad to post an electrifying 5-4 victory in the championship game of the 2015 World Junior Championship. It brought Canada its first title in the event since 2009.
Like their heroes from Sochi, the Canadians again did not experience a loss, going 7-0 en route to the crown. On their road to victory, coach Benoit Groulx’s team scored 39 goals while allowing just nine.
In summation, Canada’s Olympians and juniors went a combined 13-0 in while outscoring the opposition 56-12.
Is that dominating enough for you? Connor McDavid certainly thinks so.
In a country where hockey-crazed fans often cannot wrap their heads around the fact that many countries have closed the gap with Canada in terms of development, the past year has shown that the state of the game up here in the Great White North is pretty healthy, thank you very much.
And let’s not forget the title won by the women’s national team in Sochi. That’s three golds, if you’re counting.
What it means is that, at least today, Canada is on top of the hockey world. Period.
Just ask Connor McDavid.
As for the 2015 world junior, here are some of the highs and lows of a truly exhilarating tournament. The teenagers from all 10 represented countries should take a bow for the wonderful theatre they produced in the past two weeks.
You deserved it, guys.
BEST GOAL, 1 a)
Team USA captain Jack Eichel hardly distinguished himself as much as he would have liked, especially since his American team was punted out of the tournament in the quarterfinal. But his ridiculous wraparound goal against Germany showed why he is projected to be drafted second overall behind Connor McDavid. His reach was so long, he was still standing behind the net when he swept the puck in.
BEST GOAL, 1 b)
McDavid put so many moves on Denmark goalie Georg Sorensen during a breakaway in the quarterfinal even the fans in the stands were dizzy.
Attendance in Montreal. Ticket prices were far too high in a city that has much less corporate backing than Toronto. To have almost 3,000 empty seats for a New Year’s Eve game between McDavid’s Canadians and Eichel’s Americans is unacceptable.
Max Domi. He scored, he set up his linemates, he blocked shots, he got into the faces of his opponents. No wonder Arizona Coyotes assistant GM Darcy Regier was wearing an omnipresent smile on his face the past week.
After Denmark snapped a 15-game losing skid with its first ever world junior victory -- a 4-3 shootout win over the Swiss -- the euphoric kids held an emotional team cheer in the dressing room. Hard not to pull for these Davids in a tournament full of Goliaths.
After giving Denmark a brief 3-2 lead in a game it would go on to lose 4-3 to the Czech Republic, Mathias Asperup slid across the ice on one knee while unveiling a moustache painted on his finger and used his other hand to produce what appeared to be a vulgar gesture. His celebration would later be deemed “inappropriate.”
After Canada had defeated Slovakia 5-1, the Air Canada Centre crowd disagreed that Slovak goalie Denis Godla was not named his team’s player of the game and began chanting “Goalie, goalie ...” An emotional Godla responded by waving his stick to the crowd. Godla would end up being named tournament MVP.
STAR STRUCK, PART 1
Godla was joined on the tournament all-star team by defenceman Josh Morrissey (Canada), defenceman Gustav Forsling (Sweden), forward Connor McDavid (Canada), forward Max Domi (Canada) and forward Sam Reinhart (Canada).
STAR STRUCK, PART 2
With Team Canada playing all its preliminary round games in Montreal, the Air Canada Centre fans adopted Swedish forward William Nylander, the Maple Leafs first-round pick in 2014, as its native son. Swedish players joked that the announcement of Nylander’s name for an assist would draw bigger cheers than the name of the player who actually scored the goal. While the Swedes lost the bronze medal game to the Cinderella Slovaks 4-2 on Monday, a disappointed Nylander took time to thank the fans. “They were amazing,” he said. “I can’t wait to play in front of them in the NHL.”