After claiming five tournament championships in a row from 2005-2009, the Canadian Junior team’s gold medal drought has now reached four years. And for the second straight year, the squad won’t even be playing in the gold medal game. That result was assured when Team Canada fell 5-1 to the United States in Thursday’s semi-final in Ufa, Russia.
Hopes Russian fans had of their team capturing gold on home soil were also crushed when they lost to Sweden 3-2 in a shootout. That sets up a match-up between the Americans and defending champion Sweden for the gold medal. That game will be broadcast on TSN this morning at 7 a.m. Regina time. That game will be preceded by the bronze medal game between Canada and Russia that will start at 2:30 a.m. Regina time on TSN. If those times fall into the ungodly category for you, both games will be rebroadcast later in the day (the bronze medal game at noon and 6:30 p.m., the gold medal game at 2:30 and 9:30 p.m.)
I didn’t see enough of the tournament to comment intelligently on how things broke down for Team Canada. I know there was some controversy all tournament long about who should be starting in goal. According to TSN, back up goalie Jordan Binnington will start in place of Malcolm Subban in the bronze medal game.
With a win today against Russia Canada will extend its medal streak to 15 tournaments. But that will likely be cold comfort to hockey fans who expect to see Canada finish atop the podium at every international tournament. Before Canada went on its five title run it endured a seven tournament gold medal drought that ran from 1998-2004, though. So such slumps aren’t unheard of. And every year other nations continue to up their game so obviously Canada needs to do the same. And the generally moribund style of play favoured in the NHL and Canadian Major Junior Hockey isn’t helping Canada excell on the world stage.
In 2014, the World Junior tournament will be in Malmo, Sweden.