WJC: Leblanc, Canada Come Home With Silver

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MONTREAL, QC.–For the second year in a row, it was in heartbreaking fashion that Canada’s national junior team finished on the losing end of the final score in the gold medal game.  Last year it was the United States winning in overtime after a frenetic goal-scoring binge on the part of both teams.  Canada avenged themselves for that loss on Monday night with a 4-1 win in the semi-final.  This year, it was the Russians coming up from behind and stunning the red-and-white-checkered HSBC Arena.

Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead, with Canadiens’ 2009 1st rounder Louis Leblanc assisting on Carter Ashton’s goal, and that was where the score stood heading into the second intermission.  But just as they had done to both the Swedish and Finnish teams leading up to this game, the Russians swung violently back into the game, scoring two goals eleven seconds apart in the early-goings of the third period before knotting the game at three at 7:29, leaving the Canadians–those on the ice as well as all those watching–in a state of shock.

The mistakes began to culminate from there.  Nothing flowed right for Team Canada, as they took penalties, missed passes where they hadn’t before and quite simply collapsed as Artemi Panarin gave the Russians the lead for the first time with just over four minutes left to go in the game.  Canada struggled to get the puck out of their own zone and it was to the benefit of Nikita Dvurechensky, who put the final touches on a 5-3 win by Team Russia, who up until that point had split their gold-medal matchups against Canada 3-3.

Source: iihf.com
“We played only 40 minutes, not 60,” said Canada’s captain, Ryan Ellis. “It’s our fault. We had it in our own hands. It unfortunately got rolling for the Russians after the first two goals. We all learned a lesson. You should never stop playing. Live goes on, we have to get over it.”

Next year’s World Junior Hockey Championship takes place in Alberta, with the cities of Calgary and Edmonton sharing the hosting duties. In the more immediate future, however, Louis Leblanc’s Montreal Juniors are next in action this Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. against the Val d’Or Foreurs.

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