DAVOS, Switzerland – Once again, it will be a Canada-Russia final at the Spengler Cup.
Jeff Toms had a goal and two assists as defending champion Canada defeated Moscow Dynamo 6-3 on Tuesday to qualify for Wednesday’s final (6 a.m. ET). The Russian squad had already cemented its championship berth prior to the contest.
The Canadians won last year’s crown with a 2-1 victory over Russian club Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
Canadian coach Sean Simpson said Tuesday’s game had all the intensity that’s typical of a Canada-Russia matchup and he’s expecting more of the same with a championship on the line.
“There’s always been a rivalry there,” he said. “At any level, Canada against Russia is a special game.
“Today, guys were definitely competing pretty hard. There’s not a lot of love lost between the two teams and I expect more of that (Wednesday).”
Jean-Guy Trudel, Jay Harrison, Ric Jackman, Martin Kariya and Serge Aubin had the other goals for Canada, which finished atop the five-team standings with a 3-0-1 record.
With nothing to play for, Dynamo went with backup goalie Mikhail Biriukov against Canada. Simpson also added the Moscow side didn’t dress two regulars and had pulled two more from the game entering the third.
But Canada wasn’t concerned with the lineup changes.
“We had to win the game to get through, we had to take care of our business,” Simpson said. “But I expect a much different game from both sides in the final.
“We have to be better to win the tournament and I know they’re going to be better. There are two steps to this tournament: First is get to the final, then to win the final.”
Simpson said Canada’s key in the final will be playing tough defence and corralling Dynamo’s up-tempo offensive attack.
“We have to make sure we play our game,” he said. “They play a quick transition game, they’re a very dangerous offensive team.
“They bring their defencemen into the attack so we have to make sure we’re not getting guys trapped, no outnumbered rushes and play real solid in our defensive zone. If we do that it means we’re concentrating and we’re going to go forward the other way on our transition and play our game.
“Taking away their time and space, they really don’t like it if we do that so basically the key is playing our style, which is in your face and aggressive hockey. All the little things we did (Tuesday), we have to do them again. It’s like a little mini series we’re playing against them. It will be a great game.”
Canada took a 2-0 lead in the first on goals from Toms and Trudel, then put the game away by outscoring the Russians 3-1 in the second. Harrison scored to make it 3-0 before Dynamo cut the Canadians’ lead to 3-1. However Jackman and Kariya countered to make it a 5-1 score heading into the third.
Aubin put the Canadians ahead 6-1 in the third before Dynamo scored twice late in the period to make it a three-goal game.
Canada has appeared in eight of the last nine championship games, winning the Spengler Cup in 2002, 2003 and last year.
Overall, Canada has won the Spengler Cup 11 times (1984, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007) since first taking part in the tournament in 1984.
The Spengler Cup, held annually since 1923, is the world’s oldest pro international hockey tournament.