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Russia edge Canada to win ice hockey worlds

Russian players celebrate after scoring against Canada in the final of the Ice Hockey World Championship Keystone

Russia have defended their status as the world's top ice hockey team, defeating Canada for the second straight year in the final of the Ice Hockey World Championship.

This content was published on May 10, 2009 - 23:10

Russia came from behind to beat Canada 2-1 on Sunday evening on strong goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, who handled a disproportionate number of shots from the Canadians.

The Russian goalie stopped 37 of 38 attempts and his team, who had before last year gone without a championship since 1990, playing as the Soviet Union, came through when it mattered.

Oleg Saprykin and Alexander Radulov scored two goals – on only 17 shots for Russia throughout the entire game – for the world's top-ranked side.

"It was a great game," said Saprykin. "One of the best matches I ever played in my life. We played for our country, for all our supporters and we won. I'm happy and proud."

Despite both teams starting somewhat hesitantly, 39-year-old Canadian goalie Dwayne Roloson did have to stop several challenging shots early on just to give his team a chance to make it a close game.

"We didn't take advantage of our opportunities and they did," Canadian coach Lindy Ruff said. "Bryzgalov didn't make any mistakes or let us back in the game."

Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov said: "We didn't get many chances, but we scored on those we had."

Canada got on the board first though. Jason Spezza scored the opening goal at 5:47 after taking a pass from captain Shane Doan and putting it past Bryzgalov's glove side.

When defenceman Braydon Coburn received two minutes in the penalty box after shooting the puck out of the rink in his own end, Russia took advantage and pressed Canada hard.

Russia tie

Oleg Saprykin lit up the overwhelmingly pro-Russia crowd in Bern, the Swiss capital, after beating Roloson with a slap shot on the glove side.

Russia proved dangerous just seconds after, testing Roloson several more times. The Canadian netminder was able to hold off Russia and the period finished in a 1-1 tie. Canada had outshot Russia 11-8 after 20 minutes.

Canada almost managed to score early in the second period after Bryzgalov allowed a puck to flip over his right shoulder. It was not meant to be for Canada however, as the puck ended on top of the net rather than in it.

The pace of the game would slow for the next ten minutes, with neither team producing any excellent chances or finding themselves in the penalty box.

Atlanta Thrashers capatin Ilya Kovalchuk became furious with the game officials after having a tooth knocked out on an accidental high stick from Canadian Dany Heatley. Heatley was not called on the play.

At almost 15 minutes into the second period, Canada's Coburn found himself in the wrong place – at the Russian blue line – as Russia were going the other way. Alexander Radulov, on a two-on-one with Konstantin Gorovikov, burned down the right side into the Canadian zone and broke for Roloson.

Radulov moved into the slot, dodged a sliding Chris Phillips and flipped a shot past Roloson's blocker, putting Russia ahead in what turned out to be the winning goal. His dramatic celebration annoyed the Canadian team.

The second period ended with 16 shots for Canada compared with five for Russia.

A few more chances

Russia went into defensive mode after the second break and Canada were unable to score in the third period despite several chances.

"We tried to play good defence and be patient," said Bykov. "But it isn't easy against an opponent like Canada."

Dany Heatley came within a hair of tying the game with just over eight minutes remaining but Bryzgalov held on.

Canada spent most of the final two minutes in the Russian end and play was halted in the dying seconds as Ruff lobbied the game officials to add a second to the clock after a very close scoring chance.

With an extra attacker on the ice, Canada were not able to beat Russia.

Russia finished the tournament unbeaten despite trailing in six of its nine matches and now hold a 25-24 edge over Canada in total world titles. Kovalchuk was named the tournament's most valuable player and Canada's Shea Weber was the best defenceman.

Russia and Canada, who are long-standing rivals, will have a chance to thrash it out again next winter, at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sweden won the bronze medal, beating the United States 4-2 earlier Sunday.

Justin Häne at the PostFinance Arena in Bern, swissinfo.ch

Just the facts

Bern cantonal police say the only real problem during the tournament was excess drinking by fans.

Since the start of the championship, 41 people were questioned for various issues and seven pickpockets arrested.

32 matches were played out in Bern and 24 in Kloten.

Fans mainly used public transport to get to matches, on average just 23% of parking places were used.

Organisers were 2,000 tickets short of their goal of selling 303,000.

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Quotable quotes

"I have to admit it, Switzerland really is an ice hockey country."
- IIHF president René Fasel after criticising the tournament's slogan at the start of the competition as "too ambitious"

"Switzerland has missed out on a medal on the ice but the volunteers and organisers deserve a gold medal."
- René Fasel

"Today we can say that we had the chance to organise an unforgettable and incomparable event."
- Fredi Egli, head of the organising committee

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