Saturday, May 8, 2010
Canada, represented by the Trail Smoke Eaters, won the 1961 World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. They would not win another World Championship gold medal until this date 33 years later.
From 1962 to 1969 Canada would follow their gold medal with a silver in 1962 and then a trio of 4th places followed by a trio of bronze medals. They would again place 4th prior to withdrawing from international competition in 1970 over the rules regarding the use of professional players until returning in 1977, but still their gold medal drought continued, as this was now the time of the Soviet Union, who, between 1963 and their breakup in 1991, won 20 World Championships in 26 years, while Czechoslovakia captured four, leaving table scraps for everyone else.
From 1977 to 1993, Canada finished in seventh place once in 1992 (the only time since entering the World Championships in 1920 that they finished below fourth place and still their worst placing ever), fourth place six times, won four bronze medals (1978, 1982, 1983 and 1986) and earned three silver medals in 1985, 1989 and 1991 as the gold medal continued to elude the once dominant Canadians. From 1920 1961, Canada had won gold 19 times out of 25 tries.
In February of 1994, Canada came so close to winning gold at the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, famously losing in the shootout to Peter Forsberg's famous effort.
Now just three months later in Milan, Italy, Canada arrived with a team of future All-Stars, knowing they could compete with anybody. During the tournament they were led in scoring by Paul Kariya (5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 8 games), Brendan Shanahan (4-3-7 in just 6 games), Joe Sakic (4-3-7) and team captain Luc Robitaille (3-4-7). Other members of the forward squad were Geoff Sanderson, Rod Brind'Amour, Steve Thomas, Jason Arnott, Nelson Emerson, Shayne Corson, Mike Ricci and Pat Verbeek.
Defensively, Rob Blake, Darryl Sydor, Yves Racine and Steve Duchesne patrolled the blueline, assisting Bill Ranford (6-0-0) and Stephane Fiset (2-0-0) in posting a stellar 1.25 goals against average while going undefeated.
Canada opened first round group play beating hosts Italy 4-1 and then beat Austria 6-1, narrowly edged Germany 3-2, blew out Great Britain 8-2 and knocked off rivals Russia 3-1 to claim the top spot in Group 1. Their reward was a mediocre Czech Republic, fourth in Group 2, whom they defeated in the quarterfinals 3-2 on a goal by Corson with just 2:34 left in the game.
They then shocked Sweden in the semifinals, thanks to a hat trick by Robitaille and four assists by Thomas, 6-0 to advance to face Finland (6-0-1), for the gold medal.
In a close fought game, the two teams played the first two periods evenly and scoreless. In the third period, Finland held a wide margin in shots and it eventually paid off when Esa Keskinen scored to put the Finns up 1-0. Finally, with less than five minutes to play, Brind'Amour scored on the power play to even the score at 1-1. The remainder of regulation and a ten minute overtime passed by scoreless, sending Canada into an all-to-familiar shootout with gold on the line.
The format called for each team to shoot five times and both Robitallie and Sakic scored for Canada, but Jari Kurri and Mikko Mäkelä countered for Finland, sending the shootout into a sudden death of it's own.
Robitaille was chosen to shoot again and skated in on Finnish goaltender Jarmo Myllys, but momentarily lost control of the puck. Fortunately for Canada, he regained possession and proceeded to brilliantly deke Myllys to score the go-ahead goal for the Canadians. When Ranford stopped Mika Nieminen on Finland's final try, Canada had finally won it's 20th World Championship gold medal after 33 years of waiting.
Today's featured jersey is a Reebok 1994 Team Canada Joe Sakic jersey as worn in the 1994 World Championships in Milan, Italy.
Sakic would play for Canada nine times during his career, winning gold at every level, including the World Juniors in 1988, the World Championships in 1994, the Olympics in 2002 and the World Cup in 2004. He would also add silver medals to his collection at the 1991 World Championships and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
This 1994 jersey sports large Reebok logos on the shoulders, but was manufactured by Tackla, using their distinctive dye-sublimation and drop shadowed block font for the numbers.
Today's video section features a great find, rare footage of the 1994 gold medal final of the World Championships between Canada and Finland. The first five rounds of the shootout are edited pretty tight, so don't blink. Following the game highlights are interviews with many of the players.
Dasherboard: The 2010 IIHF World Championships opened yesterday with a world record, and upset and a surprise.
The world record was the 77,803 fans who filled the Veltins Arena in the opening game of the tournament. The upset was #12 ranked Germany, who by all rights should be down in Division I this year, defeating the #5 ranked United States 2-1 just 21 seconds into overtime on a reviewed shot that went in off a skate. It was the first time Germany had defeated the United States at the World Championships since 1993.
The surprise came in the form of the gold jerseys worn unexpectedly by Germany for the occasion. They appear to have had a commemorative patch on the lower left hip, likely indicating these jerseys were a special one time only affair.
Friday, May 7, 2010
On this date in 1995, Finland won the IIHF World Championship for the first and only time. The script could hardly have gone any better for Finland, as they defeated arch rivals Sweden in Sweden.
Finland has a long history in the World Championships and Olympics, first appearing in 1939 and being regular participants since 1949, but did not earn their first medal until 1988 with a 2-1 win over the Soviet Union at the Olympics in Canada, a span of nearly 40 years. Their first World Championship success would come in 1992 with a silver medal in Czechoslovakia after a loss in the final game to Sweden.
They followed that with a disappointing 7th place at the World Championships in 1993, their lowest finish since 1983, before rebounding with another silver in 1994 in Italy, after losing in the final in a shootout to Canada, just three months after earning a bronze medal at the Olympics in Norway.
Now having arrived as serious contenders on the international stage, they entered the 1995 World Championships aiming for the top after their previous close calls. The Finns were led by a line known as "Tupu, Hupu and Lupu", Finnish for Huey, Dewey and Louie, the nephews of Disney cartoon character Donald Duck.
Jere Lehtinen (Lupu), made his international debut at age 19 in the 1992 World Championships, Saku Koivu (Tupu) arrived in 1993, at age 19, in the World Championships and Ville Peltonen (Hupu) completed the line when they all played together in Pelotnen's international debut at the 1994 Olympics at age 20.
While Finland's past history was barren of medals and championships, "Tupu, Hupu and Lupu" entered the 1995 World Championships with Lehtonen (two silvers and a bronze in three years of international experience), Koivu (a silver and a bronze in two years) and Peltonen (a silver and a bronze after one year) as winners with high expectations.
Those expectations met with a rude awakening in the form of a 3-0 shutout loss to the Czech Republic in their opening game. They quickly got back on the right track with a decisive 6-3 win over rivals and tournament hosts, Sweden. They took care of business with expected wins over Norway (5-2) and Austria (7-2). They completed their First Round group play with a 4-4 tie with the United States, taking second place in the group.
Finland easily advanced in the quarterfinals with a 5-0 win over France and got revenge for their only loss of the tournament against the Czech Republic in the form of another 3-0 shutout, only this time in favor of Finland, setting up the gold medal final against hosts Sweden.
Peltonen was the star of the show, scoring the first goal to put Finland ahead in the first period after making a drop pass at the blueline and then putting the rebound of a teammate's blast into a wide open goal.
During the second period Peltonen got his second goal after receiving a pass from center ice at the blueline, he simply wound up and fired a slapshot past the Swedish goaltender, launching his water bottle like a celebratory firework into the air to put Finland up 2-0.
Peltonen then completed the natural hat trick after a beautiful play after Peltonen gained the Sweden zone on the right, made a drop pass back to Koivu who made a cross-ice pass to defenseman Mika Stromberg who was streaking in unguarded on the left. Stromberg blew around the flat footed Swedish defense, cut to the net, slammed on the breaks and tried to move the puck from his backhand to his forehand, but lost control of the puck, which slid right across the crease to Peltonen, now stationed on the right side of the goal, for another easy tap in with just four seconds remaining in the second period give Finland a three goal lead heading into the final period.
Not quite finished yet, Peltonen assisted on the fourth Finnish goal when he fed the puck back to the blueline and defenseman Timo Jutila fired the puck through everyone for a back-breaking 4-0 lead and a goal celebration that took him the length of the ice.
Sweden was able to spoil the shutout to make the final score 4-1 after a fluky, high arching deflection was misplayed by Jarmo Myllys, who otherwise stood tall in goal, earning the victory for the new World Champions.
Lehtonen, Koivu and Peltonen were all named to the tournament All-Star Team, with Koivu being named Best Forward. To rub their victory in, the coach of the Finnish team, Swede Curt Lindström, took his team to Sergels torg, the central public square in Stockholm, the site for public recognition of Swedish sporting success, and brought 15,000 wildly celebrating Finnish fans with to share in the joy, which they did by singing the official Swedish song of the 1995 World Championship, "Den Glider In"
Finland received a massive welcome home back in Tampere, Finland, with the celebrations being televised on live TV to a national audience.
Today's featured jersey is a Reebok 1995 Finland National Team Janne Ojanen jersey. This is the same style jersey used in the 1994 Olympic games, and while branded as a Reebok jersey, they were produced by Tackla using the same mesh fabric and dye sublimation process. Visually, the only difference between the Olympic jerseys and the World Championship versions are the additions of the sponsorship patches to each arm.
Here are the highlights from the 1995 World Championship gold medal final between victorious Finland and Sweden.
Here are scenes of the massive celebration on their return home to Finland, as they continue to adopt "Den Glider In" as their own. Don't miss the guy playing air guitar with the then World Championship trophy!
These scenes are proof that while the NHL might not take the World Championships nearly as seriously as they do the Olympics, it clearly still matters to Europeans.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The 2010 IIHF World Championship begins tomorrow in Germany with the first game of the tournament being held at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, normally a scoccer stadium, Kicking off the tournament will be host Germany taking on the United States in a game expected to draw a capacity crowd of 76,152, which would break the current world record of 74,554 set in 2001 when Michigan State played rivals Michigan outdoors at Spartan Stadium.
Following the opening game on May 7th, the remainder of the tournament kicks off in earnest with games at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne and the SAP Arena in Manheim on Saturday, May 8th.
Group A, which consists of Russia, Slovakia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be played on Cologne, as will Group D, featuring the United States, Finland, host Germany and Denmark.
Group B, containing Canada, Switzerland, Latvia and Italy and Group C, which has Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway and France, will both play in Manhiem.
Following the Preliminary Round, the top three teams in each group will advance to the Qualifying Round, with the three surviving teams in Groups A and D placed together in Group E, and the remaining six teams from Groups B and C placed in Group F.
For the four teams that fail to advance to the Qualifying Round, they will compete in the Relegation Round, with the bottom two teams being demoted to Division I for 2011. For some countries, a championship is out of the question and their main objective in the tournament is to avoid being relegated. Look for Kazakhstan, Italy and either France or Norway and Germany or Denmark to be in the relegation round.
After the conclusion of the Qualifying Round, the top four in each group will be paired off in the single elimination quarterfinals on May 20th, with first place in Group E facing the fourth place team in Group F, second place in Group E facing the third place team in Group F, etc.
The winners advance to face each other in the semi-finals in Cologne on May 22nd with the losers meeting to decide the bronze medal and the winners meeting in the gold medal final on May 23rd in Cologne.
Russia is the two-time defending World Champions, having defeated Canada in overtime in 2008 on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuk in Quebec City, Canada and backed that up with another World Championship last year in Switzerland when Ilya Bryzgalov shut down Canada by saving 37 out of 38 shots as Russia won 2-1 despite being outshot 38-17.
Germany has hosted the World Championships six times, 1930, 1955, 1975, 1983, 1993 and most recently in 2001. The 1936 Olympics in Germany also counted as that year's World Championship.
In Canada, fans can watch 15 games of the tournament on TSN, including all of the elimination games through the gold medal final. Fans in the United States can watch on Universal Sports.
While the World Championships can provide some very dramatic and memorable moments, it unfortunately suffers from being in direct competition each spring for not only viewers, but players as well, with the National Hockey League's annual Stanley Cup playoffs. While the players belonging to the eight teams sill alive in the NHL playoffs unavailable for their countries, and other players opting to pass on the tournament following a long season of NHL competition in order to recover from injuries, spend time with their families or simply take a break from the long grind of the 82 game NHL schedule, there are many star players who will and have participated in the World Championships once their NHL club has been eliminated from competition.
This year's rosters boast such players as Steve Stamkos and Ryan Smyth of Canada, Pekka Rinne of Finland and Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin of Russia.
Today's featured jersey is a 2005 Germany National Team Olaf Kölzig jersey. This beautiful jersey is one of our favorites here at Third String Goalie and lived an all too short life. First introduced at the 2005 World Championships, it was quickly replaced by the 2006 Olympics less than a year later.
The Germany National Ice Hockey Team, currently ranked 12th in the IIHF World Rankings, tied for their lowest since the introduction of the rankings in 2003, is in a definite down period internationally. Having achieved their highest ranking of 8th as recently as 2004, they are coming off a disappointing showing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where they went 0-4 and were classified 11th out of 12.
This followed a dismal performance in the 2009 World Championships, where they finished 15th out of 16 teams and only avoided relegation only due to an IIHF stipulation that ensured their participation at home as hosts of this year's tournament at Austria's expense.
The Germans have participated in the Olympics in ice hockey 20 times since 1928, with nine of those being as Germany. Three of the teams were called the United Team of Germany during the split between East and West Germany in 1956, 1960 and 1964, but it was actually just the West Germany Team, which defeated the East German team for the right to represent all of Germany as one "United" team.
Following that ill-fated "united" concept, Germans have also participated seven times as West Germany and once as East Germany in 1968, the only time both West Germany and East Germany sent separate teams to the same Olympic Games.
Their best results have been bronze medals in 1932 as Germany and in 1976 as West Germany.
Aside from their poor showing in 2009, the Germans are regular participants in the World Championships, having been in the Top Division of the World Championships every year since the reunification of Germany in 1991 except three, with two of those years seeing promotion back to the Top Division. Their best finish during that time period was a 5th place in 1993. While not considered one of the elite countries in hockey, they are often just outside of the top group and have been invited to participate in the eight team World Cup of Hockey both times it has been held.
Germany enters the 2010 World Championships with only two NHLers on it's roster, including Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer of Nashville.
The key game for Germany, aside from competing in the opening game of the tournament against the United States in front of a world record crowd to kick off the festivities, is their meeting with Denmark on May 12. Assuming both teams have failed to gain any points versus Finland and the United States prior, the winner of this head-to-head matchup will advance to the Qualification Round, avoiding the threat of relegation entirely. Denmark is currently ranked 13th, immediately behind the Germans.
Today's video section takes a look at the 2010 World Championships and it's host cities.
Next, a review of last year's gold medal final between Russia and Canada.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Born in this date in 1972, Zigmund, "Ziggy" Palffy played 12 seasons in the NHL with first the New York Islanders for six seasons, the Los Angeles Kings for five and then one with the Pittsburgh Penguins before retiring from the NHL in early 2006 due to lingering injuries with 684 games played, 329 goals and 384 assists for 713 points. He announced his comeback from retirement just prior to the 2007-08 season and returned to the ice with HK 36 Skalica in the Slovak Extraliga and recently represented Slovakia in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Prior to establishing himself as an NHL regular, Palffy played for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the International Hockey League in 1993-94 and split time between the Islanders and the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL in 1994-95.
The Denver Grizzlies were an International Hockey League expansion team founded in time for the 1994-95 season and proved to be a smashing success in Denver. The NHL was in the middle of a lockout, the World Series was cancelled due to a player strike, the Denver Broncos of the NFL started the season 0-4 and the NBA's Denver Nuggets were would finish with a 41-41 record and be swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
The time was right for hockey in Denver.
To begin with, 16,215 fans gave the team an opening night sellout victory against the Minnesota Moose. Led by leading scorer and 1990 Hobey Baker Winner, Kip Miller (46 goals and 106 points), Chris Taylor (38 g, 86 pts.), 1990 Hobey Baker Winner Chris Marinucci (29 g, 69 pts.) and 33 games (prior to the NHL lockout ending) from none other than future NHL star Palffy, plus the goaltending of Swedish Olympian and future Islander and Olier Tommy Salo, who would win the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy as league MVP, the James Norris Memorial Trophy for giving up the fewest goals against, and the Garry F. Longman Memorial Trophy for IHL rookie of the year, the Grizzlies took the IHL by storm, finishing with a 57-18 record with 6 overtime losses for 120 points, the Grizzlies finished with the best regular season record by seven points over the Peoria Rivermen and Cincinnati Cyclones.
The playoffs would see them sweep the Minnesota Moose 3-0, oust the Phoenix Roadrunners 4-1, earn the right to play for the title by defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 4-1 and sweep the Kansas City Blades in four straight to capture the the Turner Cup, awarded annually to the IHL champions. Kip Miller was the Bud Poile Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
In the end, the Grizzlies would be victims of their own success, averaging over 12,ooo a game, and drawing attention to Denver as a fitting location for an NHL club, which quickly became a reality, as the Quebec Nordiques would relocate to Denver in time for the following season, forcing the Grizzlies to relocate to Salt Lake City after only one, but very memorable, season in the Mile High City.
Denver hockey fans would witness an unprecedented double, as the relocated Nordiques, now called the Colorado Avalanche, would proceed to capture the Stanley Cup in their first season in Denver, giving the city back to back championship seasons - only in two different leagues.
Today's featured jersey is a Starter 1994-95 Denver Grizzlies Ziggy Palffy jersey. This jersey features the IHL 50th Anniversary patch worn by the Grizzlies in their only season in Denver. By far and away the most unique part of this jersey is the bear claw slash marks not only across the front and back of the body, but embroidered into the back numbers as well. The copper trim around the numbers is also executed with a metallic twill that adds a nice detail to the numbers and a needed dash of color to the back of the jersey.
Many times when searching for videos of more obscure teams we often come across only fight videos, which we try not to use given other options, but in this case we felt this one was too good to pass up despite the minimal footage of the Denver Grizzlies jersey.
Here is yet another fight video, this time from the Turner Cup Finals. God forbid there should actually be enough interest for someone to actually post the Grizzlies hoisting the Turner Cup in celebration of them winning the championship, so all we are left with is more brawling.
Here are some highlights of Palffy while with the Los Angeles Kings.
Finally, Palffy scores his 50th goal of the season to set a new Slovak Extraliga record in 2008-09.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
When the NHL expanded for the 1967-68 season, each of the six new expansion clubs were placed in the West Division with the Original Six teams comprising the East Division. The playoff format was divided between East and West, guaranteeing that an expansion club would appear in the Stanley Cup Finals, and essentially guaranteeing that the East Division playoff finals would decide who would go on to be Stanley Cup champion against the weaker West Division survivor.
Such was the disparity in talent that the expansion club with the most points that first season was the Philadelphia Flyers with 73 points, which would have only been good for sixth place in the East. Additionally, all of the top ten scorers, as were the assists leaders, were players from the East Division, as they regularly loaded up on points while playing games against teams from the West. Nine of the top ten goal scorers came from the East as well, with only Wayne Connelly of the Minnesota North Stars and his 35 goals, tying for fourth, putting a dent in the dominance of the old guard.
Players from the Original Six teams also won every individual post season award and occupied all 12 places on the First and Second Team All-Star Teams.
Predictably, the Montreal Canadiens swept the expansion St. Louis Blues in four straight games to win the Stanley Cup.
1968-69 saw the newcomers make some inroads into the dominance of the established teams. The Blues 88 points would have placed them fourth in the East. Red Berenson of St. Louis broke into the top ten in scoring, while two players from the West cracked the top ten in assists and three players made the top ten in goals.
The playoff format was again divided with the East playoff winner meeting the surviving "second six" club from the West. Overall regular season points leader Montreal defeated Boston for the right to again sweep St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Montreal would win Game 1 and Game 2 at home by identical 3-1 scores. The series moved to St. Louis for Game 3, which Montreal dominated 4-0 before clinching he cup with a 2-1 win in Game 4. It was Montreal's fourth Stanley Cup in five years.
Serge Savard was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, becoming the first defenseman to win the award. To date, less than ten defensemen have ever won the Conn Smythe, with Scott Niedermayer being the most recent in 2007. Only Bobby Orr has won it more than once from the blueline, with those coming in 1970 and 1972.
The divisional and playoff formats would remain the same for three seasons, with St. Louis being swept in the finals all three years before change arrived in 1970-71 with the arrival of the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres to the league. Buffalo and Vancouver were placed in the East Division with the Rangers, Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Red Wings, while the Black Hawks were moved to the West Division with the "second six", which they won by a clear 20 point margin.
The playoff format was also improved, with the top remaining team in the West facing the lowest surviving East team, and the top remaining East team crossing over to face the remaining lower West team in the semi-finals. This meant the East Division Finals were no longer the de facto Stanley Cup Championship. While Original Six teams would still meet in the finals for the next three seasons, there were no more sweeps in the finals for the next five years. In addition, the North Stars became the first "second six" team to win a playoff game against an Originals Six club in 1971 as the new clubs grew in experience and confidence.
Savard joined he Canadiens for a pair of games in 1966-67 before becoming a full-time member of the team in 1967-68, a season in which he would win his first Stanley Cup, which Montreal accomplished in 13 games, one over the then minimum of the required 12 victories.
1968-69 saw Savard increase his games played from 67 to 74 (in a 76 game season), scoring 31 points from the blueline. During the playoffs, he would add another 10 points in 14 games and be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, the first defenseman so honored.
He would continue to play for 17 NHL seasons, winning eight Stanley Cups in all, including four in a row from 1976 to 1979.
He was also named the winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1979. Savard had the distinction of being named the Canadiens captain for the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons. Often forgotten is the fact Savard actually finished his career with two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets after their entry into the NHL.
Savard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986 and had his number 18 retired by the Montreal Canadiens on November 18, 2006.
Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 Montreal Canadiens Serge Savard jersey. This jersey features a lace up collar and has the sleeve numbers contained within the blue arm stripe, which Montreal did from 1966 to 1978.
This particular style with the lace up collar and sleeve number placement was used from 1966-67 to 1974-75 until the Canadiens changed to a v-neck collar.
Notice the back numbers are not centered on the blue chest stripe, a common misconception with Canadiens jerseys.
Our first video today is a tribute to Savard on the occasion of having his #18 retired by the Canadiens.
Here, Savard's #18 raises to the rafters later in the ceremony. Notice the current Canadiens players all wearing #18 Savard captain's jerseys with a special commemorative patch for the occasion.