CANADA WINS 2016 WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY
TORONTO – The Little Ball of Hate may just be the most popular player in Canada.
Brad Marchand (Hammonds Plains, N.S./Boston, NHL) scored shorthanded with 44 seconds left in the third period and Canada defeated Team Europe 2-1 to win the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Canada swept the best-of-three final series.
Marchand took a drop pass from Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Man./Chicago, NHL) and fired a shot from between the hash marks, beating Jaroslav Halak and putting an exclamation point on a fantastic tournament. The forward finished with eight points, including a team-leading five goals.
Marchand’s heroics were made possible by linemate Patrice Bergeron (Ancienne-Lorette, Que./Boston, NHL), who redirected a Brent Burns’ (Barrie, Ont./San Jose, NHL) point shot on the power play to tie the game with 2:53 remaining in regulation.
The third member of the line, Sidney Crosby (Cole Harbour, N.S./Pittsburgh, NHL), was named the Most Valuable Player. Marchand, Crosby and Bergeron was the team’s – and the tournament’s – best line, combining for 25 points in the tournament.
Carey Price (Anahim Lake, B.C./Montreal, NHL) finished with 32 saves, none bigger than the one he made on Marian Hossa from point blank range with 1:09 left in the third, setting the stage for Marchand 25 seconds later.
Canada had been the dominant team the entire tournament. Coming in the team had won 15 straight games in best-on-best competition: it was a perfect 5-0 at the World Cup, 6-0 at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and had won its last four at the 2010 Games.
Here in Toronto it had outscored its opposition 22-7, outshot it in 12 of 15 periods and had successfully killed off all 15 penalties it had been called for
For 57 minutes on Thursday night none of that mattered.
Zdeno Chara gave Team Europe the lead 6:26 into the first period. Chara, booed every time he touched the puck both tonight and in Game 1 on Tuesday, took a short pass from Andrej Sekera and beat Price from the middle of the left face-off circle.
For the longest time it looked like it would be enough to force a winner-take-all game on Saturday. Team Europe outshot Canada in both the first and second periods, and its ability to neutralize the Canadian attack – and Canada’s sometimes sloppy play on its own – had the underdogs thinking upset.
But mixing up of its lines to start the third period seemed to give Canada the jolt it needed.
With the win Canada has now won six of the eight World and Canada Cups contested.