POULIN BACKSTOPS CANADA TO THIRD-STRAIGHT SPENGLER TITLE
JASON LA ROSE
DAVOS, Switzerland – Kevin Poulin (Montreal, Que./KHL Medvescak Zagreb, EBEL) turned aside all 36 shots he faced in a terrific performance, and Canada’s National Men’s Team blanked Switzerland 3-0 on Sunday to win its third-consecutive Spengler Cup championship.
It is the first time a team has gone back-to-back-to-back at the tournament since Canada won four in a row from 1995-98. The title is also the 15th for Canada, tying host HC Davos for most all-time.
Both goaltenders were busy early, with Poulin and Swiss counterpart Leonardo Genoni combining for 20 saves in scoreless first period.
It took a fortuitous bounce for Canada to open the scoring in the second; a shot by Maxim Noreau (Montreal, Que./SC Bern, NLA) hit the leg of Zach Boychuk (Airdrie, Alta./HC Slovan Bratislava, KHL) and eluded Genoni at 7:34.
Noreau needed less than four minutes to add insurance, blasting a point shot past Genoni directly off a won face-off to send Canada to the intermission up by a pair of goals.
The defenceman – who wore the ‘C’ for the second year in a row – finished the tournament as the co-leader in scoring, netting a pair of goals to go along with five assists in four games.
David McIntyre (Pefferlaw, Ont./EV Zug, NLA) added an exclamation point for the Canadians with less than eight minutes left, spinning in the slot and squeezing a shot under the arm of Genoni to make it 3-0.
That was more than enough for Poulin, who fashioned just the eighth shutout by a Canadian goaltender in tournament history, and the second in a championship game – Canada blanked Lada Togliatti in the 1995 final.
Poulin made 16 saves in the second period but was arguably at his best in the third, keeping the Swiss at bay as they looked to get back within a goal early in the final frame. His best save came with less than two minutes to go, a how-did-he-do-that pad stop off Damien Brunner.
The Spengler Cup was the last of five Olympic tune-up events for the Canadians, who will select their team for the 2018 Games in the coming weeks.
Canada opens the Olympic tournament against Switzerland on Feb. 15 in PyeongChang, South Korea.