For the first time since 2009, Canada and Russia will square off in the gold medal game of the World Championship. Canada has dominated the tournament en route to the final, but Russia recently got reinforcements in the form of superstar Alex Ovechkin. Canada has never defeated Russia in the gold medal game at the tournament.
For the first time since 2009, the World Championship gold medal game will pit the Canadians against the Russians.
For the Canadian squad, taking on Russia could be the biggest test they’ve faced yet. Through the round robin and well up until the semifinal portion of the medal round, the Canadians went largely untested. In round robin play, Canada went 7-0, scored 49 goals, allowed only 14 and then followed that up by walking through to the semifinal against the Czech Republic thanks to a 9-0 dismantling of Belarus.
Russia’s path was not all too dissimilar, although getting through to the gold medal game took a bit of an uphill climb.
In the round robin, Russia kept pace in Group B, but fell into third spot after dropping their third game of the tournament 4-2 to Team USA, needing overtime to dispatch of the Slovaks and losing their final game of round robin play in a shootout to the Finns.
While their path to the gold medal game has been a bit more difficult, the Russian squad has only improved, thanks in large part to the arrival of Alex Ovechkin.
Though he wasn’t in the lineup as the Russians downed Sweden 5-3 in quarterfinal action, Ovechkin did suit up for his home country in Saturday evening’s gold medal contest against the Americans. And, after outspoken Russian winger Artemi Panarin said Russia needed to teach the “college kids” from USA a lesson, Russia went out and blanked the Americans 4-0 with Ovechkin finding the back of the net for Russia’s second tally of the game.
What it sets up now is yet another international showdown between Canada and Russia. There has never been a World Championship in which the Canada bested Russia in the in the gold medal game.
In both the 2008 and 2009 tournaments, it was a Canada-Russia final with the Russians coming out on top in both games, but to find a tournament where Canada won gold while Russia took home silver, you have to go back all the way to 1959, before the tournament had an elimination playoff format and when the Soviet Union, not Russia, was taking part in the World Championship. At the 1959 tournament, Canada captured gold thanks to a four win, one loss record over five games — the same record as the Soviet Union. The deciding factor was goals for. Over five games, Canada netted 21 to the Soviet Union’s 20.
The gold medal contest goes Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm ET.