MOSCOW, May 23, (AFP): Olympic champions Canada retained their ice hockey world championship title after beating Finland 2-0 in the final in Moscow. Canada, the 2010 and 2014 Olympic champions, overpowered Finland in a repeat of the 2007 final to successfully defend their world title for the first time since claiming back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2004.
“Today we did exactly we wanted to do,” said Canada skipper Corey Perry, who became the member of the Triple Gold Club after winning the Olympics, the Stanley Cup and a world championship.
“We’ve learned a lot from our first game against them at the championship.
“Today we didn’t turn the puck over, we controlled the puck playing in their zone. We’ve executed our game plan almost perfectly today and that made the difference.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in attendance at a packed Ice Palace arena, with Colorado Avalanche centre Matt Duchene providing a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot producing 16 saves as Canada claimed a 26th world title.
Canada were seeking revenge for the 4-0 defeat inflicted by Finland in their group match in Saint Petersburg and began peppering Finland goaltender Mikko Koskinen with shots from the opening face-off.
Edmonton’s 19-year-old forward Connor McDavid, a nominee for this year’s Calder Trophy given to the best NHL rookie, put Canada into the lead 11:24 into the final when he wristed the puck under the crossbar from just outside the crease.
In the second period, the defending champions still looked the commanding side and outshot their opponents 13-4. But the Finns remained disciplined and frustrated Canada’s attempts to increase their lead.
Finland, who created few chances to score an equaliser in the third period, substituted their goalie for a sixth field player with a minute to go, but that only resulted in Duchene scoring an empty-netter to secure Canada’s victory.
“I don’t think anyone was really thinking at the end,” McDavid said. “We saw the puck go in, the clock was running down, and we just down to the ice. So we got to celebrate twice in the end.”
Meanwhile, Finland players acknowledged their defeat, naming it a deserved result of the match.
“Today they played better and won deservedly,” Finland forward Aleksander Barkov said. “Unlike our group match Canada scored first and then they were in control.
“We gave everything we have to level but today it was not enough to save the match.
“Canada played according to their considered plan, they had full control on the puck and allowed us to create just very rare chances to score tonight.”
Earlier, host nation Russia won the bronze medal with a crushing 7-2 win over the United States.
Next year’s tournament will be co-hosted by Paris and the German city of Cologne in what will be the 81st edition of the ice hockey world championship.