Saturday, April 30, 2011
It certainly did not take long for the first upset in the 2011 IIHF World Championships, as in the very first game of the tournament Germany defeated Russia for the first time ever at the World Championships in 32 previous meetings dating back to 1954 when Russia was a part of the Soviet Union.
And not only did Germany defeat Russia, but it was by a shutout as well. With a the Russian lineup stocked with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov, Alexander Radulov and Alexei Morozov, German goaltender and last year's tournament MVP Dennis Endras stopped 31 shots for the win.
Goalie Dennis Endras was the center of focus for Germany prior to the game
"Our players executed the game plan perfectly, and we had good goaltending," said the Germans head coach Uwe Krupp. "It was a day when just about everything worked in our favor."
Unlike in the past, when teams with admittedly lesser talent sit back and play tight defense, only counter attacking when after an opponent's mistake, Germany nearly equalled the Russians in shots on goal with 27. Playing in his first game in months after leaving his KHL club early in December of 2010 and refusing to report to the New York Islanders after being claimed on waivers as part of an attempt to re-enter the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Nabokov took the loss in goal for Russia.
The first period was a tightly played one, which saw both teams get several chances and throw some big hits, but it ended with no score.
Endras keeps Russia off the scoreboard
Germany broke the stalemate with a goal at 4:19 of the second period when Thomas Greilinger's shot got under Nabokov's right arm and trickled across the goal line.
Germany's first goal about to creep over the line
Patrick Reimer sealed the victory for Germany when he scored on a backhander during a breakaway with 2:07 remaining in the game. Russian tried to respond, but an ill-advised penalty against Radulov for roughing scuttled any remaining Russian hopes.
"We played hard for 60 minutes," said Endras. "I think we were the better hockey team for the first 40 mintues. We made our gaps pretty tight and they didn't have much room."
The Germans celebrate their historic win
In other Group A action, the host Slovaks opened with a win in front of a partisan crowed 3-1 over Slovenia. The next vital game for Germany comes when they face Slovakia on Sunday, with both teams keen to try to win the group in light of the unexpected vulnerability of the Russians.
Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Germany National Team Uwe Krupp jersey as worn by the German head coach during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Krupp was only the second German-born player in the NHL, following Walk Tkaczuk, who played for first the Buffalo Sabres followed by the New York Islanders and Quebec Nordiques. He then moved with the club when they became the Colorado Avalanche, where he scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal in the third overtime in 1996.
His career concluded 30 games with the Detroit Red Wings as well as playing briefly for the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002-03 before retiring.
Krupp became head coach of the Germany National Team in late 2005.
This style of German jersey had a controversial beginning and is known in the collecting hobby as "The Double Eagle" jersey, due to it originally being designed for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games with the eagle head on the crest facing to the left.
The jersey design began in the summer of 1996 in order to meet production deadlines for the summer of 1997 six to nine months prior to the Olympics in February of 1998. At the time, such reference options as GettyImages.com or the image search functions found on Google or Yahoo did not exist and the designer used books in the Nike sports library for inspiration. Photos were found of a German long jumper from he late 70's as well as a crowd shot from a German National Team soccer match.
The eagle head in the long jumper photo was oriented to the athlete's left and the waving flags held by the soccer fans were seen from both sides, and as a result, the eagles were seen facing both left and right. The long jump photo in particular, lacked any signage or numbering of any sort to give a clear indication of the orientation of the original photo.
Other reference materials showed the eagle heads facing both ways and the designer proceeded to orient the eagle head to the left as shown in the photo of the long jumper.
Of note, the eagle was given four feathers on it's wings to distance the Nike produced jerseys from the familiar, iconic three-stripes of competitor Adidas.
The Nike legal department, the German Ice Hockey Federation (the DEB) and the German culture office of the government all signed off on the design of the jersey, which included the logo, and it then went into production.
Press photos were then released of the jersey with the left facing eagle crest, shown here modeled by national team goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
Then the phone rang at Nike customer service...
Someone, reportedly from the southern United States, perhaps near Atlanta, claimed the left facing eagle was the style used by the Nazi party in World War II and the proper eagle now would only be one that faced to the right.
Meetings were called and the designer was questioned about the design and why it faced to the left. A German employee at Nike backed up the designer, saying it was fine that way and it was pointed out that not only had the Nike legal department approved it, but so had the Germans, including a branch of their own government, where one would expect sensitivities to Nazi imagery would be at it's highest.
Still, not wanting to risk any bad publicity, due to concerns at the time over sweat shops in Asia producing Nike goods and recent issues Reebok had undergone with Muslims over a clothing design, it was decided to alter the jerseys to re-orient the eagle so that it would now be looking to the right.
A new set of right-facing eagle patches were quickly manufactured and sewn over the original dye-sublimated logo prior to the Olympics in February. None of the jerseys were sold at retail with the over-patching, so all of the "double eagle" jerseys in existence are game worn examples.
Today's featured jersey is a retail version, as designated by it's tagging as a size "L", where a team issued jersey would be tagged with a number designation such as a size "56", and therefore has a dye-sublimated crest, which in it's original left orientation which caused all the concern in the first place.
Today's video segment are the highlights from Germany's stunning upset of Russia at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia.
Our next highlight is Uwe Krupp scoring the cup winning goal in the third overtime of Game 4 of the 1996 finals. Note the Florida fans unleashing their final torrent of rats on the ice after the goal which goaltender Patrick Roy forced them to hang on to throughout the game following his declaration of "no more rats" after being pelted with them following a goal earlier in Game 3.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Today the 2011 IIHF World Championships begin in Slovakia, which is hosting the event for the first time.
Games are being played in Košice, located in the eastern part of the country, and in Bratislava, 250 miles away, located on the far western border with Austria. Bratislava has previously hosted the World Championships in 1959 and 1992 when it was then a part of Czechoslovakia prior to the division into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.
Since gaining their independence, Slovakia have been regular participants in the World Championships, first being assigned to Pool C as a new country, the lowest rung of the ladder system, despite the Czechs remaining in the Top Divison. Having felt they were undeservedly placed far too low on the ladder system, the Slovaks proved their point by immediately winning Pool C in 1994 and followed that by winning Pool B the very next year, completing a rise to the Top Division in the shortest time possible, aided by a 38-year-old Peter Stastny, who scored 8 goals and 16 points in just 6 games to lead Slovakia to the top of the IIHF ladder, where they have remained ever since.
Slovakian legend and National Team captain Peter Stastny
They slowly rose from a 10th place finish at the top level in 1996 to 9th and then a pair of 7ths before winning a silver medal in 2000. A drop back to 7th in 2001 was followed by the highlight of Slovakian hockey history, as they captured the World Championship in 2002.
Since that time however, the program has been in a steady, slow decline. They followed their championship with a respectable bronze medal in 2003 and then dropped to 4th, 5th and then 8th place. 2007 saw a rise to 6th, but then the dismal drop to the relegation round and a 13th place finish in 2008 and a 10th place in 2009, avoiding the relegation round thanks only to a narrow 4-3 win over Hungary.
Last year saw Slovakia finish second in Group A thanks two wins over Belarus and Kazakhstan, but that early promise was dashed in the Qualifying Round with a shootout loss to Belarus, a 7-3 drubbing by Canada, an overtime loss to Finland and an 8-0 pounding by rivals the Czech Republic. They completed their tournament by needing overtime to defeat winless Norway to limp home to a 10th place finish.
They will certainly be hoping to repeat the boost of playing in front of the home fans that Germany enjoyed last year by finishing 4th after being spared relegation after their dismal 15th place finish in 2008 due to a protection clause exempting them from relegation to ensure their participation as hosts the following year.
Despite their recent issues in the World Championships, Slovakia enters the tournament ranked 8th in the IIHF World Rankings thanks to a strong 4th place finish in the 2010 Winter Olympics when they were able to field their strongest possible team, free from the conflicts of their best players often being unavailable during the World Championships each spring due to their commitments to their NHL clubs, which are fully engulfed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs each spring.
Without a doubt, the greatest moment in Slovakian hockey history followed one of it's lowest moments. Due to rules in place during the time of the 2002 Winter Olympics in February, Slovakia was required to participate in Group A along with Austria, Germany and Latvia in the Preliminary Round, which took place prior to the NHL taking a break from it's regular season schedule in time for Slovakia's best players to compete in the early games, costing them a chance to advance to the First Round group stage when their star players, such as Peter Bondra, Josef Stumpel, Ziggy Palffy, Pavol Demitra, Marian Hossa, Miroslav Satanand Zedeno Chara, were either unavailable or limited to a game or two at best.
As a result of missing the nation's best, Slovakia finished last in their group with an 0-2-1 record and failed to advance to the First Round, which took place entirely after the break in the NHL season.
Slovakia proved the unfairness of this system just two months later when, allowed to field a more complete roster, they placed second in Group B in the First Round after defeating Poland and Ukraine before losing to Finland.
In the Qualification Round's Group F, they defeated Sweden, Austria and Russia, proving they were to be reckoned with. In the Quarter Finals they eliminated Canada in regulation, coming from behind with two goals in the third, before having to go to a tense shootout to defeat Sweden to move into the Finals, again vs. Russia, where they won the championship on a goal by the great Peter Bondra with less than two minutes remaining after trailing 3-1 after two periods.
Starting with the next Olympics in 2006, the schedule was altered to match the NHL schedule break starting in 2006 to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.
This year's World Championships will take place starting today through the championship final on May 15th in Bratislava.
16 countries will participate, with Russia, Slovakia, Germany and Slovenia comprising Group A, Canada, Switzerland, Belarus and France competing in Group B, Sweden, the United States, Norway and Austria fighting it out in Group C and Finland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Denmark facing off in Group D.
The top three teams in each group will move on to the Qualification Round, with the 12 teams being divided into two six team groups, designated Group E and Group F. From there, the top 4 teams in both of those groups will be paired up for the Quarterfinals, which begins the knockout phase of the tournament, where the true excitement really begins and the winners keep advancing until a champion is crowned.
Meanwhile, the four last place teams from the Preliminary Round will be placed in the Relegation Round with the bottom two being demoted to Division 1 for 2012.
Our video selection today takes a look back at the excitement of Slovakia winning their first World Championship back in 2002.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Neal Broten's career got off to a flying start as he, already the winner of an NCAA Championship with the University of Minnesota and an Olympic Gold Medal as part of the famed "Miracle on Ice" United States Olympic hockey team before he even started playing for the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL late in the 1981 season. It was a baptism by fire as he immediately found himself in the Stanley Cup Finals facing the mighty New York Islanders in only his 19th professional game. He signed with the North Stars at the conclusion of the Minnesota Gophers 1980-81 season in time to play just the final three regular season games before being thrown headfirst into the NHL playoffs, where the North Stars made their run to the finals.
In his first full regular season with the North Stars, Broten would score 38 goals and 98 points while finishing as runner up for the Calder Memorial Trophy. The following year he would play in his first NHL All-Star Game and would then go on to lead the North Stars in scoring in three if his first five seasons, including the 1985-86 season, when he would total a career high 105 points to become the first American-born player to reach 100 points in a season and once more play in the NHL All-Star Game.
In 1991, the North Stars would once again go on a run through the playoffs, with Broten scoring 22 points in 23 games as the North Stars would reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in club history.
Broten would eventually move with the franchise to Dallas for the 1993-94 season. During the following season he would be traded to the New Jersey Devils, which would include playing in his 1,000th NHL regular season game, becoming only the fourth U. S. born player, after Gordie Roberts, fellow Minnesotan Mike Ramsey and Joe Mullen, to reach that milestone of longevity.
Broten would conclude his season by scoring the game winning goal in the cup clinching Game 4 to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career, giving him the rare trifecta of the capturing the NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal and the Stanley Cup.
After a brief stint with the Los Angeles Kings in the 1996-97 season, he would return to the Stars to close out his playing days, finishing with 1,099 games played, 289 goals, 634 assists and 923 points.
He would also retire with several team records for the Stars franchise, including the most assists (593), most games played (992), most points (867), most seasons (16), most assists in a single season (76) and most points by a rookie (98) as well as retiring as second all-time in points by an American (923) and with the most games played by an American (1,099).
Aside from the well known 1980 Olympics, Broten would later go on to be a member of Team USA in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments as well as the 1990 World Championships.
His #7 would be retired by the Stars in 1998 and he would be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 New Jersey Devils Neal Broten jersey as worn during the season Broten would not only play in his 1,00th NHL game, but score the clinching goal to win the Stanley Cup.
The Devils adopted this style jersey for the 1993-94 season and it has remained essentially unchanged ever since. Additionally, the Devils are one of the few teams to have never adopted an alternate jersey. They have worn their original red, white and green jerseys on a couple of occasions, but as a special occasion throwback, and not as part of their current jersey set.
Today's video section begins with Broten scoring during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals followed by highlights of the deciding Game 6, during which Broten would score the cup clinching goal.
It's just too hard to pass on an opportunity to show Broten's notorious fight with Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the single most unlikely fight in NHL history.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The 1993-94 NHL season concluded with a record number of shutouts, as the various goaltenders combined for 99 regular season shutouts, led by Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour with 7 apiece.
Hasek and the Sabres finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 43-32-9 record for 95 points and drew the New Jersey Devils, who finished with the second best record in the conference at 106 points, but were seeded third behind the division winning New York Rangers (112 points) and Pittsburgh Penguins (101).
The Sabres were led by Dale Hawerchuk's 33 goals and 86 points, followed by Russian Alexander Mogilny's 32 goals and 79 points. No other Sabre reached 60 points that season. Hasek played in 58 games during his second season in Buffalo, up from 28 the year before, as he split time with Stanley Cup champion Grant Fuhr in the Sabres net. Hasek's 30 wins were good for 6th place in the NHL that season.
The Devils were led in scoring by defenseman Scott Stevens 78 points from 18 goals and 60 assists. The forwards were led by Stephane Richer's 72 points from 36 goals and 36 assists. John MacLean led the club in goals with 37 on his way to 70 points.
That season's Calder Trophy winner Martin Brodeur led the Devils goaltenders with 47 games played and 27 wins, dividing his time with Chris Terreri, who won 20 of his 44 games played.
Brodeur with the Calder Trophy
The Sabres won the opening game of their playoff series on April 17, 1994 when Hasek blanked the Devils 2-0 in New Jersey. Hasek made 30 saves in the contest to make Todd Simon's power play goal late in the first period stand up until Mogilny sealed the game with an empty net goal with nine seconds remaining.
Two nights later the Devils evened the series by winning 2-1 when Stevens scored at 13:39 of the third period to restore the New Jersey lead after Mogilny had tied the game for Buffalo at the 38 second mark of the third period. Brodeur finished with 23 saves to Hasek's 30 to get the first playoff win of his career.
The series then shifted to Buffalo on April 21st where the Devils repeated their 2-1 victory of Game 2. Richer opened the scoring at 19:01 of the first period and Tommy Albelin scored the vital second Devils goal at 15;43 of the second. Brodeur allowed a power play goal to Mogilny on the power play at 4:08 of the third period to make it a tense final 16 minutes, which included killing off a penalty at 11:54, but the Devils held on behind Brodeur's 29 saves compared to Hasek's 24.
Game 4 on the 23rd saw the two teams combine for as many goals as they had scored in the previous three games combined. The Devils opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first period on the power play, but Buffalo took the lead with two goals within 34 seconds later in the period. The teams traded goals within the first four minutes of the second period to make the score 3-2 for Buffalo, but MacLean tied the game after two periods with a power play goal at 18:36.
Just 30 seconds into the third period Wayne Presley gave the Sabres a lead they would not lose and Rob Ray took some pressure off with his goal for Buffalo at 11:35. The game finished at 5-3 in favor of the Sabres with Hasek making 20 stops to 25 for Brodeur.
Tied at 2 games apiece, the series moved back to New Jersey on April 25th. After Buffalo took a 3-1 lead at the 4:52 mark of the second period, the Devils scored four straight goals over the final 32 minutes to win going away 5-3. Brodeur was credited with 17 saves, while Hasek recorded 30 in the loss.
With the Sabres season now on the brink, they returned home to The Aud on this date in 1994 with no margin for error. The first period passed by scoreless despite three powerplays for Buffalo and two for New Jersey. At the conclusion of the first period, the Sabres held an 11-9 edge in shots on goal.
The second period saw five penalties, two against Buffalo and three for the Devils, including Ken Daneyko's second and third of the game. Despite the number of penalties, neither goalie gave an inch, with Brodeur stopping 10 shots and Hasek 14.
The third period was a close fought battle, with 9 shots for Buffalo to New Jersey's 8. A late penalty on Bobby Carpenter of New Jersey provided the only power play of the period. When Buffalo failed to convert, regulation ended scoreless with a 31-30 edge in shots for the Devils.
The Devils held the edge in play in the first overtime, winning the battle in shots on goal 10-6 with each team getting one power play. Still, the game continued on to a second overtime period as Hasek and Broduer continued to match saves.
A late Buffalo penalty in the first overtime carried over into the second overtime, but still New Jersey could not solve Hasek despite outshooting them 11-8. The remainder of the second overtime passed with no additional penalties as the scoreless game marched on to a third overtime.
Despite no power plays, the Devils took it to the Sabres in the third overtime by putting 14 shots on Hasek to only 5 for the Sabres. Brodeur had to endure one power play for Buffalo, which came at the 12:10 mark. The Sabres man advantage passed without a goal, as did the remainder of the period in this now epic battle.
The first minutes of the fourth overtime saw Hasek turn away 4 Devils shots before center Dave Hannan scored when he pounced on a loose puck and launched a backhander past Brodeur at 5:41 to give Buffalo a 1-0 win after 125:43 of scoreless play to force a Game 7 in New Jersey. It was only the seventh goal Hannan had scored all season, as he had totaled just 6 goals in 83 regular season games.
The final four saves Hasek made in the fourth overtime gave him an even 70 for the game, which set an all-time NHL record for Most Saves by a Goaltender in a Shutout, which still stands today. At the time, it was the 6th longest game in NHL history and still ranks in the top ten.
New Jersey would return home to host Game 7, which they would win 2-1 as Hasek saved 44 of the 46 Devils shots, while the Sabres only managed 18 shots for the entire game, less than the Devils had in the third period alone. Buffalo scored first at 6:00 of the first period on a power play, but it would be their final goal of the series. New Jersey evened the score at 9:53, also on the power play. Claude Lemieux's fourth goal of the series at 13:49 proved to be the difference in this epic battle between two of the finest goaltenders of their generation.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Buffalo Sabres Dominik Hasek jersey as worn during his record setting 70 save shutout of the New Jersey Devils during Game 6 of their first round playoff matchup on this date in 1994.
Today's video selection is a review of the Sabres and Devils playoff series of 1994, with commentary by Don Cherry and annoying music by some evil musician with a synthesizer and way, way too much caffeine.
This second clip features excitable Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret's call of Hannan's goal to win Game 6, which included his famous reference to vanished union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
For those of you with three hours to spare, here is a link to the full game on You Tube.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
To follow up on our entry from Saturday, four IIHF World Championships concluded on Sunday and Monday.
Division I Group A saw a winner take all game between Italy and the host Hungarians, who were looking to return to the Top Division after being relegated in 2009, their first appearance in the Top Division in 70 years.
The Italians came out strong, scoring at 3:36 of the first and again at the halfway point for a 2-0 lead which resulted in a change in the Hungarian net with one time Calgary Flames draft pick Levente Szuper replacing Zoltan Hetenyi. Hungary responded less than two minutes later on the power play to pull back a goal. Guilio Scandella scored his second goal of the period on a power play for Italy with just nine seconds remaining to give the Italians a 3-1 lead after one period.
Action from the Italy vs. Hungary final
There was still plenty of time left though, and cheered on by 8,723 partisan fans, Hungary scored the only goal of the second period just seconds shy of the game's midway point. As the third period began with Italy leading 3-2, Italy found themselves a man down 1:19 into the period. The successfully killed off the penalty, but one minute later Hungary evened the score with an equal strength goal at the 4:21 mark. The remainder of the period saw both goaltenders stand strong and regulation would end with the score deadlocked at 3-3.
Hungary began the overtime shorthanded however, as they were assessed a hooking penalty with 45 seconds remaining in the third period. Italy managed two shots on goal, with the second one finding the back of the net behind Szuper off the stick of defenseman Armin Helfer, which had to be confirmed after a review, only increasing the drama, that earned Italy the victory, the gold medal and promotion to the Top Division for 2012.
The Italians disappoint the home fans with their win in overtime
Despite losing earlier in the day in overtime to Spain, the point they gained for the overtime loss gave South Korea the bronze medal. Spain ended up being the relegated squad due to the absence of Japan, who withdrew from the competition due to the earthquake and tsunami which affected the hockey community in northern Japan earlier in the year and were allowed to maintain their place in Division 1 for next year.
Division 1 Group B in Kiev came down to a battle between Kazakhstan and the host Ukrainians, with Kazakhstan only needing to reach overtime to claim the top spot, as they entered the game with a 12-9 advantage in points in the standings.
The first period saw Kazakhstan dominate, finishing the first period with a commanding 12-3 lead in shots on goal, yet the period concluded scoreless. The second period saw a succession of penalties, with Kazakhstan finally opening the scoring on the power play at 11:11. After Ukraine took three successive penalties prior to the opening goal, it was Kazakhstan's turn to parade to the penalty box in the second half of the period, getting called for three penalties within 1:03, which allowed Ukraine to break through with just 20 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the game at 1-1.
Ukraine made the raucous home fans happy with a go-ahead goal at 5:08 of the third period. Still, they faced an uphill battle, as a win in regulation would not be enough, as it would create a three way tie with themselves, the Kazakhs and Great Britain at 12 points apiece. In order to win the tiebreaker and claim the gold medal and subsequent promotion, Ukraine would need to win by four goals or more.
The action was fierce between the two clubs with some of the longest names in the hockey universe
It was not to be for Ukraine, as hard as they tried, they were unable to break through the Kazakh defense despite outshooting Kazakhstan 11-9 for the period. At the 12:22 mark, Kazakhstan got the goal they needed, tying the game at 2-2. They clamped down for the remainder of regulation, happy to see regulation tick away in order to gain the valuable point they needed to claim the championship.
When time did run out with the score tied, the Kazakh's all gathered at the bench to congratulate each other, knowing whatever overtime had in store for them, it was irrelevant to their gold medal status. Riding on the high of knowing they had won promotion, Kazakhstan scored the game winning goal 2:01 into overtime, triggering another celebration.
Kazakhstan celebrates their return to the Top Division in 2012
Earlier in the day, Great Britain won the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Poland. Lithuania defeated Estonia 5-2 in Saturday's first game between the two winless squads, sending Estonia down to Division 2 for 2012.
After that thrilling day of hockey, the 2011 World Under 18 Championship concluded on Sunday. In the opening game of the day, Russia defeated Canada 6-4 to claim the bronze medal prior to the United States, who defeated Canada 5-4 in overtime to reach the final, squaring off against Sweden.
The first period ended all square at 1-1 thanks to a power play goal for the Americans with just eight seconds remaining to offset Sweden's first goal of the game back at 3:24.
The second period was a good one for the Swedes, as they scored an early goal at 2:21 and then added a second goal three and a half minutes later to take a 3-1 lead after two periods.
The two-time defending champion United States was not going to go away without a fight, and pulled to within one with an even strength goal just 1:20 into the third period, leaving them plenty of time to get an equalizer. During the middle part of the period both teams were whistled for two penalties, but neither team was able to capitalize. As the clock began to wind down in favor of Sweden, Reid Boucher skated into the Sweden zone, beat his defender and rang a shot off the far post and into the net with just 1:29 remaining to send the game into overtime.
Action from the United States game against Sweden
The overtime belonged to the United States, as they outshot Sweden by a large margin, 8-1. Four minutes into the extra period Sweden was called for a holding penalty. Just as the penalty expired, Connor Murphy got off a shot on goal from the left faceoff circle, which was blocked by a diving Swedish defender, only to have the puck bounce off of him right back to Murphy, who got off a second shot, which rang in off the crossbar, giving the United States their third consecutive Under-18 World Championship.
The United States raises their third consecutive Under-18 trophy
Monday saw the championship final of the 2011 World Women's Championship which featured the United States and Canada facing off for the title for the 13th consecutive time. Canada had won the first eight, but the Americans came into the tournament having won the last two and three of the last four.
The two familiar combatants completed the first period tied at 1-1 after trading goals at 16:56 for the USA and 19:52 for Canada, just when it looked like the Americans would take a lead into the second.
Veteran and team captain Jenny Potter put the United States into the lead after two periods with her second goal of the tournament at the 12:05 mark, as the remainder of the period finished scoreless despite the two teams combining for 29 shots on goal.
American goaltender Jessie Vetter on her way to 53 saves
The Canadians were determined to end the Americans current gold medal run by firing 23 shots at US netminder Jessie Vetter. The finally broke through at 16:04 on a power play to tie the game once again, this time at 2-2. Fittingly, the two evenly matched teams failed to decide the gold medal in regulation, making this the fourth championship final of the weekend out of four to require extra time to be decided.
After failing to capitalize on an earlier power play opportunity, the United States won the gold medal at 7:48 of overtime when Hilary Knight won the game when she deposited the puck into a gaping net after getting the puck off a deflection from a shot which came from the opposite side of the goal and finding herself all alone with the puck and plenty of time and space to seal the win for the United States.
IIHF president Rene Fasel presents the championship trophy to Jenny Potter
Vetter finished with 53 saves in goal for the United States, while Shannon Szabados had 50 for the Canadians.
The championship for the American women equalled the three in a row for the American under-18 junior team and concluded a fantastic weekend of dramatic overtime wins in all four tournaments, all of which served as a delicious appetizer for the 2011 World Championships, which begin Friday in Slovakia.
Today's video section begins with the highlights from the women's championship final.
Next are extended highlights of the Italian overtime win over Hungary in Division 1 Group A. For a shorter 4 minute version, click here.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Widely considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, Vladislav Tretiak was born on this date in 1952.
An unknown 20 year old, Tretiak was the starting goaltender for the Soviet National Team as the historic 1972 Summit Series began in Montreal. Since the Canadian scouts had only seen him play once, a dismal performance in which he allowed eight goals against due to excessive celebrations at his bachelor party the night before, he was dismissed as no threat to the best professionals Canada had to offer.
Two Canadian goals before the game was seven minutes old only seemed to reinforce the scouts opinion on Tretiak, which would soon change. The Canadians would manage just one more goal for the remainder of the contest as the Soviets came alive and pummeled the startled Canadians 7-3.
His continued outstanding play in the first half of the series earned him a tremendous amount of respect and admiration as the Soviets showed that they were able to compete with the Canadians. Eventually Canada would prevail in the series by the slimmest of margins, but Tretiak's reputation had been cemented by his play in the series.
Although he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1983 , it was at a time when Soviet players were not allowed to leave for the NHL. Tretiak would spend 15 full seasons playing for Central Sports Club of the Army (CSKA), or as more commonly known, the "Red Army".
During his 15 seasons in the Soviet Hockey League, Tretiak and Red Army would win the championship 13 times and finish runners up the other two. Tretiak was also named the First Team All-Star Goalie 14 consecutive seasons and league MVP five times. Outside of the Soviet Union, Tretiak and the club would take home the European Cup 13 times.
Internationally, Tretiak's resume would show three Olympic gold medals (Japan in 1972, Austria in 1976 and Yugoslavia in 1984), ten World Championship gold medals (1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1983) and gold medals in the European Championships nine times. In addition he would be named the winner of the Golden Hockey Stick as the most outstanding player in all of Europe in 1981, 1982 and 1983.
He would also participate in two Canada Cups, earning a bronze with a depleted squad in 1976 and gold in 1981 when he was named the tournament's MVP. His final goals against average in 98 international games was an outstanding 1.78.
Another career highlight for Tretiak is the 1975-76 Red Army tour of North America when the Red Army faced off against various NHL club teams, the first time any Soviet club team had faced off against clubs from the NHL. Red Army came away with dominant victories over the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins and a notorious loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, but the most memorable game was a New Year's Eve contest against the Montreal Canadiens, that season's eventual Stanley Cup Champions, which ended in a 3-3 tie with Montreal outshooting Red Army 38-13 in a game considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever played.
After his early retirement in 1984 at the age of 32, ranked as #37 in the Top 100 Stories of the Century by the International Ice Hockey Federation, due to his desire to wanting to face a new challenge of playing in North America and the Soviet authorities refusal to grant him permission and the strain of the eleven month a year commitment required by the Soviet hockey system plus friction with his coach Viktor Tikhonov, Tretiak would finally make his way to North America in 1990, having been hired by the Chicago Blackhawks as their goaltending coach.
He would become the first Soviet-trained player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and the first European player voted in without ever having played in the NHL. His induction would be ranked by the IIHF as #55 on Top 100 Stories of the Century. In 2000 he would be voted the Best Russian Hockey Player of the 20th Century as well as being named the goaltender for the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team, a tremendous honor of he highest caliber, as only one player at each of the six positions would be named to this most exclusive team. Tretiak would be elected as the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation in 2006.
The many highlights of Tretiak's career appear over and over again of the IIHF list of the Top 100 Stories of the 20th Century. The Soviets victory over Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup ranks as #9, the New Year's Eve game with Montreal #23, the shock opening game of the 1972 Summit Series as #3 and the Soviets victory over the NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup as #36. Even the defeats of the Soviets during the Tretiak era were so uncommon that they merit recognition on the list as well. A loss to Poland in 1976 was #39, the conclusion of the 1972 Summit Series was #2, the loss to the USA in the 1980 Olympics was #1, their loss to the Czechs in 1972 was #5 and in 1974 was #67.
Today's featured jersey is a 1972 Soviet Union Vladislav Tretiak jersey as Tretiak wore in the 1972 Summit Series. It is unusual in that it is a heavy-weight knit sweater with felt letters and numbers.
This photograph was taken by the author and features several additional items from the Third String Goalie memorabilia collection.
Today's first video is his introductory video from Tretiak's Hall of Fame induction.
Here are highlights from the memorable game between the Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve in 1975.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Only in Canada would a church have "Hockey Jersey Sunday".
St. Mark's by-the-Lake in Windsor, Ontario hosts "Hockey Jersey Sunday" to celebrate the start of the NHL playoffs, where all members of the congregation wear hockey jerseys to the church services that day.
Here are a pair of videos posted by the church showing the fun everyone had taking part.
St. Mark's by the Lake, we salute you.