Riga (DPA) – Canada’s World Cup victory in Riga is at the end of rapid development: from historically poor to record world champion in just two weeks.
An alarmingly scary scenario with the ensuing qualifying round initially turned down German selection for the homeland of ice hockey, primarily. A few days later, along with several unknown members of the Canadian team, shivering helplessly for a place in the quarter-finals, he was crowned world champion for the 27th time. They caught up with Russia and ended the tournament in golden confetti rain. It is a unique success story that fits this strange World Cup with a tournament bubble and without absolute top stars.
World Cup starts with three defeats
“When the squad found out, they didn’t give us a chance,” said final scorer Maxim Komtois. After a 3–2 expansion play against defending champions Finland, he did not let go of the trophy at the cabin party: “Some said we were no good, we were Canada’s C-team. Then we started 3–0. . Everyone started writing to us.”
Why not? The world number one started off with three losses. Bad like never before. Never before has any team won a gold medal with such a weak start. The World Union declared that a nation had never won, with a total of four bankruptcies. “We showed everyone they were wrong. We played good ice hockey when it mattered,” Comtois said.
Victory confirms just how much talent Canadians can be attracted to, all of whom can become world champions. And the race to success also reflects the problems and peculiarities of this World Cup. Due to many rejections, coach Gerard Gallant relied on a very young selection with players who do not play a major role in the NHL. After 1:3 against Germany, the first German World Cup win over Canada in 25 years improved the top nation.
NHL striker Mangiapane made a difference
If you are looking for answers to reasons, you will meet Andrew Mangiapane again and again. After joining the team, he became a symbol of the resurgence of Canadians. In the first three World Cup games, the NHL striker was not available. After the season ended with Calgary, he first had to be in a quarantine.
With seven goals and four assists in seven matches, the 25-year-old became the most valuable player in the World Cup. With 14 assists and two goals, aided by World Cup top scorer King Connor Brown and captain Adam Heinrich, they formed an excellent trio. “He was the difference player, no question about it,” Gallant said.
At the end of the preliminary round, Canada had to rely on a game between Germany and hosts Latvia to be the winner after 60 minutes. Only because Germany won 2–1 and Kazakhstan lost to the first eliminated Norwegian, Canada progressed. Canada then continued with victories against Russia, arch-rivals USA and defending champions Finland. In extra time, Ottawa striker Nick Paul (67th minute) scored the winning goal on presentation from his teammate Brown to avenge their 2019 loss in the final against the Finns.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210607-99-893709 / 4