DAVOS, Switzerland - Team Canada won its eleventh Spengler Cup thanks to a 2-1 final victory against Salavat Yulayev Ufa, the current leader of the Russian Superliga. The selection of Canadian hockey pros - most of them former NHL players in the Swiss National League A - won all four round-robin games including another tight 3-2 game against the Russians at the traditional tournament, which has been held annually after Christmas in Davos since 1923.
The game-winner was the best known player of the team: 40-year-old netminder Curtis Joseph. The 17-season NHL veteran helped the Canadians with 38 saves.
On the other side was Russian 2007 World Championship netminder Alexander Yeremenko who let in two curious Canadian goals. At 26:08, the puck stopped between the left post and the leg of Yeremenko, who didn't have itunder control. Kirby Law scored by hitting Yeremenko's pad. Kazakh Alexander Perezhogin, the tournament's top scorer, equalised at 29:25 with a counterattack snapshot. Only 30 seconds later, the Canadians scored the game-winning goal. Ryan Keller shot beside the cage, but the puck rebounded off the boards and found the net via Yeremenko's leg.
The Russians seemed to lack power to score another goal. So, Team Canada captain Serge Aubin could receive the trophy after three unsuccessful years in Davos for the selection of Hockey Canada. For head coach Sean Simpson - another job-seeking guy as his leaving from Switzerland's EV Zug had been announced - it was the first Spengler Cup win as a head coach after having served as assistant coach for several years.
"It's a good feeling to win the tournament. The Russians played very well and Curtis Joseph was sensational," Canada head coach Simpson said after the game, "our team had the willingness to fight hard for it. They got the chance to show what they can do." Simpson was assisted by former NHL star Doug Gilmour, who has been working as a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Jim Koleff, who gave a comeback behind the bench after another won battle against cancer.
"We played solid defensively and scored two goals in a tight game. It was nice to play again and it went better game by game", said Joseph after the tournament and his first games of the season.
Salavat Yulayev, however, has found new fans in the Swiss Alps after an entertaining performance at the whole tournament. Some reporters compared the Russians to Martians not only because of their arty play but also because of their unfamiliar green jersey. German champion Adler Mannheim finished third in front of Czechs HC Moeller Pardubice. Title-holders and hosts HC Davos were disappointing their fans with the last rank and will need some improvement prior to their participation at the IIHF European Champions Cup.
Link: Video of the second period goals by the Swiss Television SF2
(Real Media format)