IIHF Top 100 WM Stories – Part X
by Andrew Podnieks|16 MAY 2020
Sweden won Olympic and World Championship gold in the same year in 2006.
photo: Jukka Rautio / Europhoto
The great NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said that “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” While that isn’t the IIHF way of doing things, winning is ultimately the best way to make hockey history in the international game, and these stories tell of the ultimate examples of winning. They may not be the only thing, but they are great things all the same. Here’s the last part of our top-100 stories from 100 years of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Recently separated Czech Republic and Slovakia meet in Worlds final

Proving that breakups of countries didn’t have to result in bloodshed, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1st January 1993, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. The hockey ramifications were simple for the Czechs – they continued to play in the top division. But Slovakia was considered by IIHF rules to be a “new” nation and had to start in C Pool. They quickly earned promotion to B and then A Pool, and their ascent in A Pool continued unabated. They finished 10th in 1996, 9th in 1997, 7th in 1998, and 7th again in 1999, leading to the 2000 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia. That year, they made it to the gold medal game where they faced the Czech Republic, a moment in history on ice that had as its backdrop a political importance. The game itself wasn’t thrilling as the Czechs started the third with a 4-1 lead and coasted to a 5-3 win, their third straight gold. More important, however, the Czechs and Slovaks proved – both as nations and as hockey powers – that political and geographic separation have to be neither painful nor bloody to be successful, and by maintaining civilized conduct, both continued to prosper and develop world-class players.

David Moravec's OT gold medal winner solidifies Czech dominance

The Czechs entered the 2001 World Championship in Germany with a hat trick on their mind. Hat trick, as in winning gold for the third straight year. They finished in first in their qualifying group, and then played a perfect game in the quarter-finals, beating Slovakia, 2-0. In the semis, Viktor Ujcik was the hero,, scoring both the tying goal in the third period and the winner in the shootout. As in 1999, their opponents in the gold medal game were Finland, but this time the Finns got off to a great start, building a 2-0 lead. The Czechs rallied, though, forcing overtime, and after killing an early penalty, they scored the winner when David Moravec took a backhand that eluded goaltender Pasi Nurminen. The Czechs won, 3-2, joining an exclusive group of teams to have won three or more in a row (Canada, Soviet Union).

Sweden makes history with Olympic and World Championship gold

In 1972 and 1976 there were both Olympics and World Championship tournaments. This double was eliminated for the period 1980-1988, but since 1992 it has been the norm. Yet in the ten instances when both events have been played, only once has a team won gold twice – Sweden in 2006. The Turin Olympics came down to one moment early in the third period when a Nicklas Lidstrom shot broke a 2-2 tie and led Tre Kronor to victory. Just three months later, the Swedes hammered the U.S., 6-0, in the quarter-finals of the World Championship and survived a late comeback attempt by Canada to win, 5-4. In the gold-medal game, they handily beat the Czechs, 4-0, thus becoming the first, and still only, team to win the double gold. Eight players were on both teams: Henrik Zetterberg, Jorgen Jonsson, Kenny Jonsson, Niklas Kronwall, Mika Hannula, Mikael Samuelsson, Ronnie Sundin, and backup goalie Stefan Liv.

Kovalchuk’s OT winner beats Canada, in Canada

The 2008 World Championship could not have had a better finale. Played in Quebec City during the IIHF’s Centennial celebrations, the gold-medal game pitted hosts Canada against their greatest rivals, Russia. Although Canada was the better team for much of the game, it blew a 4-2 lead in the third period and the game went into overtime. Early in that period Rick Nash accidentally cleared the puck over the glass, earning a delay-of-game penalty, and the Russians went to the power play. Sergei Fyodorov skated in over the blue line with the puck, and just when it looked like he was against the boards with nowhere to go, he fed a nice pass to Ilya Kovalchuk, open and entering the zone with speed. Kovalchuk took the puck to the middle, then ripped a shot over the shoulder of Cam Ward to give Russia the gold medal.

Underdog Czechs defeat Russia to pick up their sixth Worlds gold

The 74th World Championship gold-medal game took place in Cologne, Germany, on 23 May 2010, and it featured the classic Eastern European rivals Czech Republic and Russia. While the Russians got to this game in impressive fashion, the Czechs needed two heroic goals from Jan Marek in a shootout in the quarter-finals against Finland and semi-finals against Sweden. In the final game, though, they scored off the opening faceoff. Jakub Klepis beat Semyon Varlamov with a shot just 20 seconds from the start, stunning the Russians, who were never really able to get over that poor beginning. They had three power plays in the period, but the Czech PK was perfect. In the second, the Czechs added a late goal to make it 2-0, and they had a great chance in the third to blow the game open when Alexei Yemelin took a major penalty for clipping. This time it was the Russian penalty killers who were flawless, and although Pavel Datsyuk scored with 36 seconds left in regulation, they couldn’t tie the game. The Czechs won their sixth all-time gold medal, a victory made possible by three great plays in each of the playoff games.

Galchenyuk helps USA capture bronze in shootout

On 19 May 2013, Alexander Galchenyuk helped the United States win a bronze medal at the World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, one of only three medals the country had won in the last half century (all bronze). The Americans were playing the Finns for third place, both nations having suffered identical 3-0 losses the day before in the semi-finals. In that bronze game, the U.S. took a 2-0 lead into the third period, only to see the Finns storm back and tie the score. After ten minutes of scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout, and both teams scored once in the early rounds. In the fourth round, though, Mikael Granlund missed his chance, so Galchenyuk had a chance to win the medal with a goal. He skated in in a straight line at medium speed, then made a quick deke before going back to his forehand side. Goalie Antti Raanta went for the move, and Galchenyuk slid the puck in for the win and the bronze medal.

McDavid scores his only goal of 2016 Worlds... the gold-medal winner

There is no doubt that Connor McDavid is the fastest player to have laced up a pair of skates. Ever. And he has also accomplished so much so quickly, winning a U18 gold in 2013 and a World Junior gold in 2015. When he helped Canada to a senior World Championship gold in 2016, he became the youngest player in IIHF history to win these three gold medals. Canada and Finland played in the ultimate game in 2016 in Moscow, and although McDavid hadn’t scored a goal through the first nine games of the tournament, he chose an excellent time to get that first one. Midway through the opening period, he skated in over the blue line on the right side and passed to Matt Duchene in the middle. Duchene’s shot was blocked, but McDavid flew by his man, Miko Pyorala and got to the puck first. In one motion, he cut to the middle and shot, beating Mikko Koskinen low to the far side before the goalie knew what had happened. It was a brilliant goal scored in a “McDavid flash.” That was all Canada needed. It got a second goal later, won, 2-0, and took home the gold medal.

Slovakia is Finland's lucky hosts as Finns capture gold again

The Finns arrived in Slovakia for the 2019 World Championship in a good mood. The last time they played a World Championship there, in 2011, Finland beat Sweden, 6-1, to take the gold medal. This time, an unheralded team led by coach Jukka Jalonen managed to win despite a lineup that lacked superstar magic or an aura of invincibility. But Suomi kept winning, beating Sweden in overtime in the quarter-finals and then Russia, 1-0, in the semis. Their opponent in the finals was Canada, a team that had had an equally impressive run with a roster that also wasn’t blessed with an obvious superstar like a Crosby or Toews or Bergeron. But when Canada scored the opening goal midway through the first period, it looked like it had the upper hand. Wrong. Marko Anttila tied the game midway through the second on a power play, and he scored again early in the third on a quick shot to give Finland the lead. When Harri Pesonen scored with less than five minutes to go, Canada had no comeback in response. Finland won gold in Slovakia for the second time in as many visits.
During the 100-year anniversary of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship we bring you the top-100 moments in stories, photos and videos in 10 days. Check out more by clicking the chapters below: