Canada under-18 men's hockey team got the opponent they wanted in the final of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
After dropping the first game of the tournament 5-1 to Sweden last Monday, Canada avenged that loss with a 4-1 triumph on Saturday to win the country's fourth consecutive gold medal.
Canadian head coach Steve Spott revelled in the victory after the game. He accused the Swedes of videotaping Canadian practices and went on to criticize their general demeanour at the tournament.
“I can tell you I really believe the Swedes won their gold medal last Monday,” Spott said. “The way they handled themselves throughout the week, it was a little bit surprising to me. They just did things that I thought were uncharacteristic of them.”
Canada used a balanced attack to beat the Swedes, getting scoring from Sean Monahan, Scott Laughton, Brendan Gaunce and Charles Hudon.
“(Sweden) were a team that was pretty proud and I think took us light,” Spott said. “We learned a good lesson Monday night but we were just hoping to get this opportunity because we knew we were better than we were last Monday. Thankfully our boys bought into our game plan and executed it to perfection.”
Canada opened the scoring when Monahan beat Swedish goalie Oscar Danish midway through the first period on the power play.
Calle Anderson evened the score 13:06 into the second, but Laughton restored the lead three minutes later and the teams headed into the second intermission with Canada up a goal.
Gaunce gave Canada a two-goal advantage 40 seconds into the third period, before Hudon added a fourth on the power play.
“We tried to spread our offence,” Spott said. “We didn't have one powerful line like maybe the world junior team might have. We didn't have one line that's got three world class players on it. We've got 13 very, very good players that we just wanted to spread out and make sure we had nice chemistry among them and we found that chemistry.”
After the game Spott praised the blue collar nature of his team.
“We had to have a third line mentality as team. Chip pucks out and chip pucks in and win our battles and our best players and our most skilled players were willing to do that,” he said. “We don't have a (Peter) Forsberg on our team but I can tell you right now we've got 23 kids that are committed to winning and they represent everything that Canadian hockey is all about.”
Canada progressed as the tournament went along. After the opening loss to the Swedes, Canada beat the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Russia by a combined 17-1 scoreline en route to the final.
Spott said through team and individual meetings the players and coaching staff were able to turn things around.
“It's staying positive,” Spott said. “And just letting them know that we just need to get better every day and if we do that we'll still have a chance to play for a gold medal and they never lost faith.”