Eight teams took to the ice to compete for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Group A was comprised of Canada, the Czech Republic, the United States and Team Europe, a team comprised of players from European nations not otherwise represented at the World Cup of Hockey. Group B was made up of Sweden, Russia, Finland and Team North America, a team with players aged 23-and-under from Canada and the United States.
Team Europe were the surprise of Group A during the early part of the tournament. They finished the Group Stage with a 2-1 record and joined the undefeated Canadians in advancing to the knockout stage. It was the young North American team who impressed during Group Stage action in Group B. “The Young Guns” won a pair of games including a dramatic overtime thriller over Sweden, but ultimately it would be Sweden and Russia who advanced to the knockout stage.
The first semi-final game would pit Canada up against Russia. The long-time rivals would battle to a 2-2 tie through the first two periods, but powered by third period goals by Corey Perry and John Tavares, Canada would ultimately prevail. Sidney Crosby led the way with three points while his linemate, Brad Marchand, scored twice.
The second semi-final game would see Team Europe take in Sweden. The teams would exchange goals in both the second and third period and would end regulation locked in a 2-2 tie. Sweden would carry the play for much of the brief overtime period, but it was Tomas Tatar of Team Europe who notched the winner. Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves, backstopping his team to the victory.
The stage was set for a best-of-three series between Team Europe and Canada. Game one saw Canada take an early lead on the strength of goals by Brad Marchant and Steven Stamkos. Tomas Tatar would answer for the European team in the second period, but a goal by Patrice Bergeron in the third put the game out of reach.
It was Team Europe who took the early lead in game two of the series as defenceman, Zdeno Chara, slid one passed Canadian netminder, Carey Price, 6:26 into the first frame. The lead would hold up until late in the third period when Patrice Bergeron tied the game for Canada on the power play with just 2:53 remaining. With overtime looming, Brad Marchant scored the game-winning goal for Canada, with just 43 seconds to play. The win was Canada’s second consecutive World Cup of Hockey title having won the tournament when it was previously played back in 2004.
With three goals and seven assists, Canada’s Sidney Crosby was named tournament MVP. He joined Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky as the only players ever to win the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and MVP at the Canada Cup or World Cup of Hockey.
|United States||3||Czech Republic||4|
|Team Europe||3||Czech Republic||2|
|United States||0||Team Europe||3|
|Shayne Gostisbehere||North America||53||3||0||4||4||0|
|Shayne Gostisbehere||North America||53||3||4|
|John Gibson||North America||36||2||1||0||0||0||2.09|
Eight countries started the tournament with the World Cup in their sights. By the time the semi-finals began, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland and the United States were the final four standing. When the dust had cleared, Canada's undefeated 5-0-0 record was pitted against Finland's four wins and a tie. Canada advanced to the final with an overtime goal by Vincent Lecavalier to top the Czechs 4-3, while Finland eliminated the Americans 2-1 with Saku Koivu scoring the game winner with just under four minutes remaining in the third period.
"This is the greatest achievement in Finnish ice hockey," gleamed veteran forward Teemu Selanne. "Being world champions in 1995 was a major achievement as was the bronze (medal) in Nagano. But this (victory over the U.S.) supersedes both of those. It's the World Cup and all the best players are here."
The Canada/Finland final was held Tuesday, September 14, at the sold-out Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Joe Sakic opened the scoring just 52 seconds into the opening period. The Finns tied the game at 6:34 when Riku Hahl redirected a Toni Lydman blast from the slot past a screened Martin Brodeur.
The Finns stymied the Canadians, slowing the pace to a crawl. But at 3:15 of the second stanza, Scott Niedermayer restored Canada's lead, slipping a shot between the pads of Miika Kiprusoff. But Tuomo Ruutu's brilliant solo rush for Finland resulted in the tying goal at 19:00 of the second.
Shane Doan of Team Canada scored the winning goal at the 34 second mark of the third, converting a pass from Joe Thornton behind the Finnish net. This marked the third time in the game that the Canadians scored on their first shot of the period. Canada held on, inspired by brilliant defensive play from captain Mario Lemieux and superb netminding from Martin Brodeur, who returned to the Canadian crease after sitting out the semi-final contest nursing a wrist injury.
"Every time you have success, it's something you'll never forget. And the way we dominated the tournament was probably the key for me. How many times are you going to be able to say you never lost a game?" stated Brodeur.
Although disappointed with the result, Finnish coach Raimo Summanen, was pleased with his team's moxy. "I'm proud of the players. Their attitude through this whole tournament was great," he said. "The Canadian team deserved to win. Great hockey team. What a hockey country and what a tradition. What players, coaches and management. I really respect their work."
Team Canada's Vincent Lecavalier was named the tournament's most valuable player, collecting two goals and five assists in six games. Of note, Lecavalier was a last minute replacement for the injured Steve Yzerman.
|Keith Tkachuk||United States||7||5||5||1||6||23|
|Martin Havlat||Czech Republic||24||5||3||3||6||2|
|Milan Hejduk||Czech Republic||23||4||3||2||5||2|
|Patrik Elias||Czech Republic||62||5||3||2||5||10|
|Marek Zidlicky||Czech Republic||3||5||3||1||4||2|
|Patrik Elias||Czech Republic||62||5||3|
|Martin Havlat||Czech Republic||24||5||3|
Originally known as the Canada Cup, this tournament was created by the NHL, NHLPA, and Hockey Canada in 1976 and gave NHL players a chance to represent their respective countries. The first five Canada Cup tournaments (1976, 1981, 1984, 1987, and 1991) saw Team Canada and the United States face off against the four best European national teams based on the results of the most recent World and European Championships.
The name and format of the tournament was changed to the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, with the world's eight best national teams (Canada, the USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic) meeting in August-September of that year. The teams were divided into two groups of four, one playing its preliminary round-robin series in Europe and the other in North America. The top three teams from each group advanced to the playoffs, which were all played in North America. The first-place team in each group received a bye through the first playoff round, while the teams that finished second met the teams that finished third in the other group. Winners of the one-game series advanced to the semifinals with the first-place teams. Semifinal winners then met in a best-of-three final.
The 1996 tournament saw the United States pitted against Canada in the finals. The series opened up in Philadelphia and Canada downed the U.S. 4-3 in an overtime thriller.
Team USA won the second game 5-2, adding two empty-net goals late in the game to force a decisive third game.
Team Canada will forever remember Game 3 of the World Cup as "the title that got away." American hockey fans will forever remember Amonte, who scored the game-winning goal with 2:35 left in regulation.
Amonte's tourney-winner came only 43 seconds after the U.S. tied the score off Hull's seventh goal of the competition. The Americans added two more goals to their total (one an empty-netter) and skated to their first world hockey title since the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
For his stellar efforts Mike Richter was named the MVP of the inaugural World Cup tournament. He made 35 saves, including 23 in the second period, in the series-clincher against Canada.