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Russia wins 2008 Ice Hockey World Championship in Canada

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

Russia’s national ice hockey team beat Canada 5-4 in overtime in the final of the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada to become world champions for the first time in 15 years.

Trailing the Canadians 2-4 in the third period on Sunday, two quick goals from Alexei Tereshchenko and Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Russians level.

And with almost three minutes into overtime and with Canadian Rick Nash in the penalty box for delaying the game, Kovalchuk clinched the game with a well-placed wrist shot over the shoulder of Canadian goalkeeper Cam Ward.

The Russian team had not lost a game on the way to the final and now equal Canada with 24 world titles. Canada hosted the championship for the first time in the 100-year history of the champions and was eager to win the trophy on home soil.

Last year at the championship held in Moscow, Russia was also desperate to win the title at home, but was beaten in the semifinal losing to Finland in overtime. The title eventually went to Canada, who beat the Finns in the final.

Speaking after the match in Quebec City, Alexei Morozov, the Russian captain, said the team had learnt the lessons from last year, but said it was difficult to play against the hosts in Canada.

“This championship was different from the one in Moscow [last year],” Morozov, who scored five goals during the championship, said. “But we have learnt the lesson and changed a lot.”

The Russian captain also said that an incident involving the Russian team bus, which was stopped by the Canadian police before the final, only stirred up the players.

“We were angry and it was unpleasant,” Morozov said. “But in the cloakroom we agreed to forget about the incident and to focus on the game to get results.”

While the Canadian team bus was permitted to stop by the main entrance of the Colisee Pepsi stadium, where the final was being held, to drop the players off, the Russian bus was stopped about a kilometer from the entrance and the team was told to walk the remaining distance.

Morozov also said he believed in Kovalchuk, who prior to the final had not scored a single goal, saying that “two or three days ago I told him [Kovalchuk] that he would decide everything in the ‘golden’ match.”

Russia’s head coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who captained the Russian team in 1993, the last time they won the World Championship, also praised Kovalchuk’s match winning goals.

“I am simply happy for Ilya [Kovalchuk],” said Bykov adding he hoped that the players would continue to get results at international level, including at the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, which will also be held in Canada.

And honors were also heaped on Russia’s goaltender Yevgeny Nabokov who was voted the best goalie of the Canadian World Championships.

The Russian team, which entered the championship in fifth place of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) ranking, is now ranked 2nd after Canada with just 10 points less (3400 against 3410).

On Saturday, four Russian players were named for the ice hockey Team of the Century announced by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Goalie Vladislav Tretyak, defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov and forwards Valery Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov, who played for the Soviet national team in the 1970s and the 1980s, were voted on to the team in a poll conducted by a group of 56 experts from 16 countries.

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