VANCOUVER (CP) - The players bought into coach Brent Sutter's demand for relentless defence when the world junior hockey tournament began, and it all paid off in a 5-0 victory over Russia in the game for gold Thursday night.
"We just wanted to keep things simple and keep them off the scoreboard as best we could and we did it pretty well," said defenceman Ryan Parent of Guelph's Ontario junior club.
Sutter has now coached Canada to back-to-back world junior titles. Canada had not accomplished that feat since 1996 and 1997 when the country completed a run of five straight. It was Canada's 12th world junior title.
Sutter, the coach, general manager and owner of the Red Deer Rebels, is 12-0 in his two years at the helm of the national team. He's now the winningest Canadian coach in the history of this tournament.
Michael Blunden of the Erie Otters scored two power-play goals for his first two of the tournament, and Blake Comeau of the Kelowna Rockets, Steve Downie of the Peterborough Petes and Kyle Chipchura also scored for Canada in front of a full house at GM Place. Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman Cam Barker had two assists.
Canadian goaltender Justin Pogge collected his third shutout of the tournament. The Calgary Hitmen netminder stopped 35 shots and helped hold off Russia in the first period when Canada was getting outshot 15-3 at one point.
Pogge tipped his new world junior champion baseball cap to the crowd during the post-game celebration to acknowledge the regular chanting of this name throughout the game and the tournament.
"We came out and played our game," said Pogge. "We're in Canada, the gold stays here in Canada."
Sutter's philosophy of an aggressive defence, hard work and attention to detail has proven successful with both the star-studded team that won the 2005 championship in Grand Forks, N.D., and this squad, which was considered an underdog in this tournament because it was younger, more inexperienced and had less talent at the forward position.
Canada allowed only six goals in six games and only one of them was an even-strength goal.
"I really felt comfortable with the team that we had," Sutter said. "They stuck together as a team, played hard, competed and stayed with the program. Tonight showed their commitment.
"A lot of people underestimated the skill we had on this team."
Russia did not get good goaltending out of Anton Khudobin as he showed poor technique on Canada's first two goals of the game.
Canada worked harder and was more willing to pay the physical price around the Russian net than the Russians were in defending it.
And Canada's special teams were better with two goals on seven power-play chances while holding Russia scoreless on six opportunities.
Russia outshot Canada 15-8 in the opening 20 minutes, but the Canadians emerged with a 2-0 lead on goals by Comeau and Downie. They were also buoyed by the defensive effort of Eric Staal, who shut down Russian star Evgeni Malkin, and Pogge, who made some tricky saves during three Russian power plays.
Television replays in the opening minutes of the second period showed the puck getting across the goal-line behind Pogge. The Russians had a long discussion with American referee Brian Thul, but the score remained 2-0.
Blunden shovelled a loose puck that squirted loose in a goal-mouth scramble over Khudobin at 14:44 of the second period. He pounced on a rebound on a Cam Barker shot from the blue-line at 12:02.
The Russians began to show their frustration at that point with roughing and tripping penalties in the second period, which didn't help their cause. Canada carried the play outshooting them 19-9 in the second frame.
Chipchura made it 5-0 with less than three minutes to play in the third period when he beat Khudobin on the short side.
The Canadians were outshot by a large margin in the first period, but kept a lot of those shots to the outside.
Pogge made two tough saves on off-speed and deflected shots in on Alexei Yemelin and Vyacheslav Buravchikov during a penalty kill.
Staal found Comeau near the faceoff circle as he drove the net and banged in his own rebound when Khudobin lifted his right pad at 18:56.
Downie wheeled out in front of the net and somehow got the puck under Khudobin's pad at 17:13.
Alexander Radulov of the Quebec Remparts rang a shot off the crossbar during Russia's third man advantage of the game.
Canada had lost to Russia on home soil by one goal in the final of the 1999 tournament in Winnipeg and the 2003 final Halifax. The last Canada had won gold as the host team was in 1995 in Red Deer.
"You know so little yet you know it so fluently." npd233