We do a lot of lists around here, and most of them are of the oddball variety. Like, say, that time we listed the best NHL players by colour (no, not that kind of colour), our guide to the best names ending in “Chuk”, and our suggestion that Gary Bettman could dress up as Sidney Crosby in our hockey Halloween list.
But, to get poetic for a moment, sometimes creativity and zaniness gives way to the preservation of history, or something like that. Tonight Team Canada plays in its 10th consecutive gold medal game at the World Junior Championship, looking to regain the top prize after losing it to the U.S. last year, the first time Canada had lost gold in five years. They’ll play a Russian team that’s had eight podium finishes over the last decade, but hasn’t tasted gold since winning back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003.
These two storied international hockey programs have quite the history against each other. I’m told that some guy named Henderson once scored a goal that was kind of a big deal, and Theo Fleury ignited fisticuffs so intense that they punched the lights out (literally).
So to get the blood pumping for tonight’s gold medal showdown, here are a handful of the top Canada/Russia moments, in video form.
The brawl of 1987
Infamously dubbed the “Punch-up in Piestany,” this bench clearing brawl at the 1987 World Juniors in Czechoslovakia led to the ejection of both countries from the tournament. It was started after an incident between the always feisty Fleury and Pavel Kostichkin.
All Jordan Eberle does is score really big goals
Canada’s hopes of a fifth consecutive gold medal were seconds away from dying during the semi-final in 2009. So of course it was Eberle time.
Lemieux’s Canada Cup heroics
The entire vintage highlight reel of Game 3 in the 1987 Canada cup is worth soaking in. But the shining moment comes towards the end when Super Mario scores the game-winner.
He can’t score for the Devils, but put him in a Russian jersey…
The only thing that makes a highlight clip better is a commentary I can’t understand. And I mean that sincerely. Foreign languages always sound far more intense than plain old English. It’s like every Russian play-by-play guy is a reincarnation of Gus Johnson.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime goal sealed the 2008 World Championship for Russia. Now, if only he could put that stick of his to better use in New Jersey he might start deflecting pucks into the opposing goal instead of his own.
The obligatory Paul Henderson highlight
I’m pretty sure it’s an act of Canadian treason if this clip isn’t included in a Canada/Russia highlight list.