BERNE--Backed by stellar goaltending from 39-year-old Dwayne Roloson and timely scoring, Canada defeated Sweden 3-1 on Friday to advance to the gold medal game for the sixth time in the last seven years.
Last year the Canadians lost to the Russians 5-4 in overtime in Quebec City in the grand finale of the IIHF’s 100th anniversary.
"We came here to win the gold medal," said Derek Roy, a member of last year's silver-medal team. "Everyone is definitely excited that we're playing them again."
The storyline for this Sunday’s final in Kloten is simple: Canada is looking for revenge; Russia is looking for momentum. Russia will be the home team, playing in red, while Canada will wear white. The referees will be Peter Orszag (Slovakia) and Jyri Rönn (Finland).
Sweden will face the United States earlier on Sunday in the bronze-medal game.
"Some of the boys who have won before talked about what it takes th win this tournament," said Shawn Horcoff, "so we talked about playing in the quarters and semis and finals, and we talked about what they were able to do in order to get better and better."
Tonight’s game against Tre Kronor started cautiously for both teams, but after a few minutes of slow play Canada turned on the heat and produced several good scoring chances and then the first goal, at 6:51. Martin St. Louis curled around the net, and as he did so two defencemen and goalie Jonas Gustavsson followed him. St. Louis made a sensational back pass to Derek Roy who had the wide open net as Gustavsson was protecting the other post, expecting St. Louis to swing around with the puck.
"We were just trying to make the right play at the right time," said St. Louis. "Those plays just happen. It's not like you plan it or it's a set play. He happened to be there and both guys came on me, and I just tried to slide it to him."
The rest of the period was equally cautious as the start, and Canada played near-flawless defence. Goalie Dwayne Roloson had to stop but six shots, and only a close-in chance from Tony Martensson could be called dangerous. The goalie also froze the puck more than half a dozen times in an effort to slow play down and prevent a puck-handling error.
Matt Lombardi incurred the only penalty of the period, expertly refereed by Danny Kurmann of Switzerland and Vyacheslav Bulanov of Russia, who let the teams decide the outcome.
Canada started the second period not intent on scoring a second goal of its own so much as trying to prevent Sweden from getting one. The result was a more confident Tre Kronor and the men in Swedish blue created several good scoring chances. Roloson was letter-perfect, though, especially on an in-close shot from Linus Omark. Moments later he made a great glove save off a Rickard Wallin shot.
The game turned midway through the period thanks to two quick strikes from Canada. In the first instance, on a play that was close to being offside, Shawn Horcoff finished off a nice pass from Mike Fisher. Then, just 45 seconds later on the power play, Dany Heatley took a weak backhand in the slot that Gustavsson saved, but the goalie coughed up a generous rebound and Derek Roy lifted it home for a 3-0 lead at the 10:38 mark.
"Canada's a tough team to come back against," admitted Magnus Johansson. "They grabbed the early lead and dominated, especially in the second period."
Sweden had nary a good scoring chance the rest of the period, but the Swedes took it to Canada in the third as the Canadians sat back and let Tre Kronor attack. The result was a goal at 6:14 by Loui Eriksson after Roloson let a rebound slip out of his grasp.
"When we scored, there was a lot of time left," added Johansson, "but we never got that second goal which would have really put the pressure on them."
Sweden could get no closer, though, as Canada's defence prevailed. The Canadians now prepare for the final international game of the year, and the most anticipated since last year's final.