1997
1996-1997





Sweet victory for Canada.
15 1997 . Kerr, Grant. The Spectator; Hamilton

Anson Carter draped himself in the Canadian flag as he proudly pushed his way into the noisy dressing room and was met by a champagne spray from jubilant Travis Green.

On the other side of the room, Owen Nolan had a brilliant smile on his face instead of the frown that was prevalent after he was suspended for a game last week for his part in a controversial melee that had the Canadians being branded by some as thugs.

Over in a corner, a tired and drawn Sean Burke unbuckled his goaltending pads, a look of contentment on his face for the first time in three weeks. Winning the world championship is something Burke will not soon forget.

Minutes earlier, he stood at the blue line as the Canadian players sang their national anthem. They were brothers in arms, hanging onto the shoulders of teammates that proved to be strongest in the tournament.

Canada earned its 21st world title and second in four years with a stirring 2-1 win over Sweden yesterday to cap a two-game comeback after Sweden won the opener of the best-of-three final.

Burke stopped 31 shots and Canada got goals from captain Dean Evason and Nolan to provide just enough offence before more than 13,000 fans, many of whom had counted Canada out earlier in the tournament.

"It's the best feeling I've ever had in hockey," Burke said. "I've never won a gold medal despite being in some big tournaments."

Burke said being soundly beaten 7-2 by Sweden in the first round was the impetus for the remarkable comeback in the final.

"It made us realize how hard it was going to be to win this and how much satisfaction we could have if we did win it," Burke said. "Finally, we bought into the system of Andy Murray and the other coaches."

Murray, the national team mentor, used Evason, his captain this season, on a line with San Jose Sharks teammates Nolan and Bob Errey to shut down Sweden's top line, led by Michael Nylander.

Nylander did score a power-play goal with 73 seconds left in the game, but Team Canada managed to kill off yet another penalty to ensure victory.

"A lot of people felt we were out of it after losing the first game of the final to the Swedes," said Murray. "We were able to pick our game up a notch and get the job done.

"They were hoping to win. We knew we could win. That was the Canadian difference, the Canadian edge. And you don't win internationally unless you have great goaltending. Sean's been a bridesmaid a number of times, so it's great for him to get the win."

Evason gave Canada the lead late in the first period on a Nolan rebound and then Nolan scored the winner early in the second on a pretty passing play with Green and Mark Recchi.

The determined Nolan, suspended after brawling with a Czech, made amends in a huge way.

"We knew they were going to be chippy, but we controlled our emotions," said Nolan. "It might not always be the right way, but I play to win."

Asked if he would like to play in the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nolan quickly answered: "Of course, if it's as much fun as this, of course."

Carter got a laugh from the fax posted on the dressing room wall, near a map of Canada, that read: Forget about Bre-X. Canada's going for the gold.

"Look around this room. All the guys were losers because their teams didn't make the playoffs. We had a chance to make amends. And we did."

WHAT THEY SAID

"We're all role players. Some guys are scorers, some guys keep them out. We had a great formula and it showed it at the end."

-- Bob Errey of the San Jose Sharks.

"You can't believe the feeling when I saw the puck leave our zone with 10 seconds to go. We had a great game plan and our coaching was far superior to anything else."

-- Sean Burke of the Hartford Whalers.

"Andy Murray believed in me. Not many people did before this. When you can say you're the best in the world, what a feeling."

-- Captain Dean Evason of the national team.

"It's a special feeling here because you don't realize how important this is until the tournament wears on. I'm very happy I came. I can't put my finger on anything in particular other than we're Canadians."

-- Steve Chiasson of the Hartford Whalers.

"Everybody came here for the right reason. We knew the job we had to get done."

-- Canadian coach Andy Murray.

"It's better the second time. It's harder to get and it feels better. It was a wild finish. The Canadians rose to the challenge."

-- Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings, who played for the 1994 Canadian gold-medal team.

--"We all worked hard and paid the price."

-- Owen Nolan of the Sharks.

"It's been a great couple weeks, real special. We had a bunch of guys who cared about winning the goal medal, not who did what."

-- Mark Recchi of the Montreal Canadiens.




Canadian captain savors win.
15 1997 . Vancouver Sun.

HELSINKI - Dean Evason was the busiest player in the Canadian dressing room after he finished hugging the world championship trophy.

The Canadian hockey captain took time to shake the hand of each teammate before sitting in front of his stall for a moment to reflect on the situation.

Evason waited several minutes. He didn't want to take off the Canadian jersey that's meant so much to him. As captain, he was the first to hoist the championship trophy over his head, and the last to hang up his skates.

``I can't describe the feeling I have right now - it's unbelievable,'' said Evason. ``After playing for so long and never having an opportunity to play here, and being their captain, it's indescribable.''

The 32-year-old centre from Flin Flon, Man., cut adrift by the Calgary Flames before the season, found a home with the national team and its head coach, Andy Murray.

Murray promised Evason he would be part of the world championship team and Evason was the only Canadian player who hadn't performed in the NHL this season.

Evason provided determination and leadership over the three-week tournament. He scored in the final game, won faceoffs and checked tenaciously on a line with Bob Errey and Owen Nolan in the 2-1 decision Wednesday over Sweden.

``I sat at home and watched three years ago when the Canadians won at Milan and was as thrilled as anyone could be,'' he said. ``I think we made a lot of people happy today and very proud to be Canadian.''

Evason plans to play in Germany next season and will have a decent bargaining chip after the world championships.

``We gelled as a team because we have a great group of guys and everyone's a character player,'' said Evason. ``Even the superstars we have, Keith Primeau and Rob Blake, are down-to-earth guys, quality guys.

``Maybe Canada didn't win the World Cup, but now we can say we're the best in the world again.''

Since losing in the World Cup final to the United States, Canada has scored the hockey hat trick by winning the world junior, the world women's event and the men's championship.

The 1997 sweep didn't escape Evason and his celebrating teammates.

``As Canadians, we know how to play the game. We weren't afraid to win. I'm so excited because no one gave us a chance when all this started.''

With that, he gave teammate Mark Recchi a hug that said it all: recognition for a job well done.




Swedish coach rises at international level
15 1997 . The Vancouver Sun

HELSINKI - The stock of Swedish coach Kent Forsberg continues to rise on the international hockey scene.

The quiet man from the small community of Ornskoldsvik in northern Sweden is best known as the father of NHL star Peter Forsberg. He has survived player controversy and criticism by the Swedish media while leading his team with dignity at the world championship.

Forsberg selected and molded a team that had only six NHL players, showing his detractors he can direct the national team without Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup.

Sundin and Alfredsson refused to play in the world tournament after the long grind of an NHL season that was preceded by the World Cup of Hockey.

Forsberg and assistant coach Tommy Tomth will coach the Swedish entry at the Winter Olympic Games in February, along with Barry Smith, the nomadic coach who bounces back and forth between Malmo in Sweden and the Detroit Red Wings.

Some critics think Smith should be the Swedish head coach at the Olympics. But the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation showed its faith in Forsberg by naming him Olympic coach before the World Cup.

``I think it would be wrong to change,'' Swedish team manager Bo Tovland, a Forsberg loyalist, said. ``We want the same staff as in the World Cup.

``Kent has done a very good job in selection and coaching this team.''

Forsberg was named the tournament all-star coach in voting by reporters.

Canada will not name its Olympic coach until this summer because the leading candidate, Marc Crawford of the Colorado Avalanche, is busy in the NHL playoffs.



World beaters! Team Canada `losers' reclaim global supremacy:
15 1997 . Canadian Press.

HELSINKI - The champagne was flowing while Team Canada, draped in the Maple Leaf, hugged one another, friends and family.

It was party time in the Hartwall Arena.

Canada 2, Sweden 1 (Canada wins series 2-1)

The dressing room was swinging last night after the Canadians won the world hockey championship with a 2-1 win over Sweden in the final game of the best-of-three gold-medal round.

Scarborough's Anson Carter was all smiles as he swigged from a two-litre bottle of bubbly. It was less than a month ago that the NHL season ended for him and most of his teammates and at the time there was little on his plate except a summer of rest and relaxation.

Team Canada called and Carter didn't blink at the opportunity to prolong his season and buck the odds by winning Canada's second world crown in four years.

Carter chose his words carefully when asked what the victory says about Canadian hockey.

``All these guys were losers - we didn't make the NHL playoffs but we had a chance to make amends and we did,'' he said. ``To establish the friendships we established, it's an incredible feeling.

``We went through a whole season of ups and downs and there were moments when we could have packed it in. The guys stuck together and we battled as a team right to the end. We were all like brothers. Guys took jabs at each other and no one got offended. That's why we were a team. No one is above anyone.''

The win completed a hat trick on the international circuit for Canadian Hockey. The juniors won a fifth straight title in Switzerland in December and the women's team made it four straight in Kitchener in April.

``We do not produce winning players, we produce winning teams,'' said Canadian Hockey president Murray Costello, forgetting Canada's World Cup performance for the moment.

That Team Canada rallied to win Games 2 and 3 after losing the first match of the final provided a textbook example of what Canadian hockey players are best at.

Every time Team Canada had to win during the tournament, it did.

Canadian NHLers next appear on the international stage at the Winter Olympics in Japan in February, and there is no doubt Canadian Hockey will use some of the lessons learned from both the World Cup experience and the world championships in assembling the team.

The Canadian entry at this tournament showed that the best players don't always make the best team. The work ethic of Bob Errey and Carter are proof positive of this. Errey and Carter played key roles in Canada's 3-1 win in Game 2 and performed well in the clincher.

``To be one of the 22 guys who can say they are world champions is a great feeling,'' Carter said.

Owen Nolan showed the world he has a skilled side by setting up Dean Evason's goal at 18:39 of the first period and then scoring the winner early in the second.

Nolan made headlines and earned a one-game suspension from the tournament when he punched a Czech in the head during a medal- round game.

Against the Swedes, he didn't take himself or his team out of the game with dumb penalties.

``I play to win and it might not always be the right tactics but it paid off,'' he said. ``We knew the Swedes were going to be chippy but we controlled our emotions.''



 




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