While everyone is firmly in the holiday spirits right now, hockey fans have a little something in the back of their head. They know that the Christmas season also means World Junior Hockey time, some of the best, most exciting international play the sport has to offer. Team Canada has put on quite a show over the years, with the most medals won and a record high 16 gold medals. With all those wins, there have been a fair share of memorable moments over the years, so let’s look back on a few of the best.
2008- Halischuk Squeezes In An OT Victory
After being beaten by Team Sweden in the round-robin, Canada met them again in the finals. The Swedish team was strong this year and it led to a hard-fought game which eventually spilled into overtime. It was there that young Matt Halischuk, a player who just barely made the cut, proved to be a clutch player in high-pressure situations. Attacking the puck at full speed, Halischuk squeezed that puck past the goalie pads and took home the gold.
1987- The Punch-Up At Piestany
Fighting has always been a big part of hockey, but this brawl was totally unprecedented. During the final game of the tournament between Team Canada and the Soviet Union, a scrappy game turned ugly as the players on the ice broke into a 5-on-5 fight. Before long, both benches were cleared and there was a full-on melee on the ice. The overwhelmed refs soon left the ice and in a desperate attempt to get things under control, they actually turned the stadium lights off. It didn’t work. The fight lasted for 20 minutes and in the end both teams were disqualified and Team Canada was promptly escorted by armed guards to their team bus and told the get the hell out of there.
2009- Tavares Answers Back
Even with Pat Quinn behind the bench, things weren’t looking good for Team Canada in this New Years Eve game. Team USA had scored 3 easy goals in the first 10 minutes and one of the American players gave a little taunt as he skated past the Canadian bench. That was all they needed. That and John Tavares. Responding beautifully, Tavares scored 2 goals in less than a minute. It was a tied game going into the final period. Team USA had quieted down but Team Canada had more to say. Final score clocked in at 7-4 for the Canadians with Tavares walking away with a hat trick.
2007- Toews Is Shootout King
While already a star in the world of junior hockey, this was the moment the rest of the world was introduced to Jonathan Toews. During the 2007 tournament, the classic rivalry of Canada and the United States came down to a semifinals match-up. The game was tied up at 1-1 at the end of regulation, leading to shootouts to decide the game. After the first three shooters went for each team, players were allowed shoot again. Toews scored on all three of his attempts for Canada, until Carey Price made the final save on Team Canada’s path to another gold medal.
2009- Eberle Becomes A Canadian Hero
This was a moment Canadians will remember for many years to come. In the semifinal against Team Russia, Team Canada trailed 5-4 on national ice in Ottawa. With an empty net, time was quickly running out. Not a team to quit so easily, the Canadian players relentlessly attacked the net until the puck came to Jordan Eberle. With a swift backhand, Eberle tied the game with 5-seconds left. Eberle cemented his hero status as he scored the winning shootout goal and pushed Team Canada on to another gold medal victory.