Hockey_Canada.svgThe World Junior Hockey Championship (IIHF World Under-20 Championships) finished Saturday with an unexpected result…Canada not winning a medal. In fact it was only the third time since 1990 and first time since 1998 that Canada has failed to win a medal. It has been coming though. After winning 5 gold medals in a row from 2005-2009, 2010 and 2011 saw silver medals and 2012 a bronze before missing this year.

Canada doesn’t dominate nor is assured of a medal any longer at this tournament. This year was supposed to be a sure win for Canada with the NHL being locked out and several team members who would be playing in the NHL being members of the team. 3 in particular, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Scheifele, didn’t disappoint. RNH in specifically was fantastic except in the semi-final game where the entire team took the game off. He lead the tournament in scoring and was a +6. In the round robin, team Canada scored more goals than any other team.

Their biggest issue was in goal. Malcolm Subban and Jordan Binnington were just not up to the task. Subban played the majority of the games for Canada and was not the big time goalie that Canada needed. He finished the tournament with the 6th best save percentage and the 5th best goals against average. That is not going to win tournaments. When Binnington did get a chance to play he was even worse. Part of that may have been sitting on the bench for so many games but you need to be ready when called upon. Subban let in 3 goals in the first 2 games of the tournament an the first game was against Germany. The issue with that is that Germany only scored 4 goals in the entire round robin and 3 of those were in the first game. Not championship calibre goaltending.

Yes there were other things that worked against team Canada. The IIHF seemed to have it in for the team, in particular the penalty that Anthony Camara received for a clean hit in the game against Slovakia. The physical style that Canada typically plays no longer goes over well or scares opponents at the WJHC. The coaches need to do a better job of picking a team who can play without the over aggressive play.

 

The last reason that the Canadians lost and missed a medal…this team showed very little heart. At least last year when team Canada went down 6-1 to Russia in the semi-final they didn’t quit and almost pulled off a miracle but lost 6-5. This year when they were down to the USA, they just seemed to pack it in and accept the fact they were going to lose. There was none of that infamous Canadian heart and desire. It just wasn’t there. That ability to dig down deep and come up with a game changing play was no where to be seen and in fact gave the puck away more than any team I can remember recently.

The last few years has definitely shown that there are 4 or 5 teams that can win this tournament. No longer does Canada get to show up and play some games and come home with a medal. It is expected from the hockey watching populous of Canada, but it isn’t guaranteed any longer. In the last 4 years all of Canada, USA, Sweden and Russian have medaled 3 times but only Canada has not come home with gold. If Canada is going to get back to the winning ways it used to celebrate on a nearly annual basis, they are going to have to find that heart and desire and make sure their goaltending is up to par with the 3 other perennial medalists. Canada really is not dominant any longer.

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