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Canada Wins 2008 World Junior Hockey Championship

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PARDUBICE, Czech Republic - Team Canada will take to the ice in Ottawa next December as the four-time defending world junior champions.


Brad Marchand led the way with a goal and an assist and Matt Halischuk scored at 3:36 in overtime as Canada beat Sweden 3-2 in the gold medal game of the world junior hockey championship.


"I just wanted to go to the net and whack it home," Halischuk told TSN. "Thank God it went in. That's all I can say...I'm speechless."


With the victory, Canada captured its 14th gold medal while the Swedes - who were in their first final since 1996 - finished the tournament with their seventh silver. The country's only other gold medal win was in 1981.


It was sweet redemption for Canada, who had their 20-game winning streak in the tournament snapped last weekend with a 4-3 loss to the Swedes in their preliminary game.


It also marks the third time in the history of the world junior championship that a country has won four straight gold medals. Canada captured five straight from 1993 to 1997, while the former Soviet Union were the top team from 1977 to 1980.


"This one's even better than the last one," forward Brad Marchand told TSN after the game. "We had so much adversity to overcome that it makes it all the sweeter. We kind of let up in the third, but we came back and got the win."


The top scoring line of Marchand, Kyle Turris and Claude Giroux elevated their play for Canada's final game, producing Canada's first two goals for the early lead.


Just a minute and 27 seconds into the opening stanza, Marchand batted the puck out of the air on a shot by Giroux and past Swedish netminder Jhonas Enroth to get on the board.


Fifteen minutes later, Marchand and Turris drew assists on Giroux's power play goal for a two goal lead.


While the early lead was promising for Canada, the news was not good for Stefan Legein. The Niagara IceDogs forward left after just one shift with a separated right shoulder injury and was out for the rest of the game.


The second period saw no scoring, with Canada coming up short on three power play opportunities. But to their credit, they still dominated Sweden in shots and scoring chances.


The Swedes finally beat netminder Steve Mason at 5:13 of the third period on a power play goal by Carlsson and was quick to follow it up with more pressure and scoring chances. Their best chance to even things up came with Marchand in the box for charging with seven minutes left, but Giroux and Turris bailed out their linemate with some solid penalty killing.


But with 38 seconds left and Enroth pulled for the extra skater, Larsson scored the equalizer in a scramble in front of the net to force a 20-minute four-on-four overtime.


"The Swedes were unbelievable in the third period and we couldn't beat them," coach Craig Hartsburg said after the game. "But we came out on top and this was a great group of kids."


Canada is now 23-8 in the medal round all-time, and 21-8-1 all-time and 5-0 in the medal round against Sweden.


Mason, who stood on his head in the final and in Canada's semifinal win over the U.S. on Friday, was named the tournament's top goaltender and most valuable player. "It's unbelievable," he told TSN. "I can't believe we won today. I'm the happiest guy in the world right now."


Canadian defenceman Drew Doughty was named to the tournament all-star team along with Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman and forward Patrik Berglund, Russian forward Viktor Tikhonov and American forward James vanRiemsdyk.


Ten players, including forwards Turris, 2008 NHL draft prospect Steven Stamkos and 2009 NHL draft prospect John Tavares, are eligible to return next year for Canada's fourth straight title defence. The tournament returns to Canada in December when Ottawa plays host beginning Dec. 26.


WOO HOO!!! :nono: <_<

Edited by Takara_Soong

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:nono: Wow! Four in a row is VERY impressive! Congrats <_< to Canada and to all our Canadian members for this tremendous achievement by our neighbor to the North. B)

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