Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa was the captain of Team Canada's World Championship roster. Canada lost in the quarterfinals to Finland on Thursday

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa was the captain of Team Canada's World Championship roster. Canada lost in the quarterfinals to Finland on Thursday

Quarter-final loss frustrating for Canada

Fifth straight quarter-final loss at worlds is frustrating for Canada

By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

In the black-and-white of history, this Team Canada will likely not be remembered fondly.

The 2014 world hockey championship began with a shootout loss to France and ended with a gut-wrenching defeat to Finland in the quarter-finals. It marked the fifth straight year Canada lost in the quarter-final.

“Everybody knows the challenges coming into this tournament, and our expectations are still the same: to win the tournament,” coach Dave Tippett said. “And when you don’t win the tournament, it’s frustrating.”

But in an Olympic year and with a mix-and-match team of veteran second- and third-liners and young players who could be stars someday, this was a Team Canada that Tippett was satisfied with for accomplishing the goal of getting better game-by-game.

Joel Ward gained international fame with his scoring touch and affable admission he had never been to Europe before. Cody Hodgson got to show what he might be able to do as an NHL left-winger. And Mark Scheifele, Jonathan Huberdeau and Sean Monahan showed some growth that could prove worthwhile in future tournaments.

The loss to France set all of that in motion.

“I got a text right after the game from Dave King, who’s been at a lot of these tournaments,” Tippett said of the six-time Canadian world-championship coach and two-time assistant. “We were all sour about losing in a shootout, and his text was ‘Great result. Go to work.’ And that was exactly it.”

Tippett shared that message with assistants Paul Maurice and Peter DeBoer. He didn’t have to tell the players because they already got the idea.

“After that game, we had the attention span of the team, that how hard this was going to be, especially our young players,” Tippett recalled.

Tippett saw his team take a “big step forward from there.” A slow start gave way to a third-period offensive explosion against Slovakia, then the scoring came sooner and Canada held on to beat the Czech Republic.

Blowouts of Denmark and Italy were to be expected, even if they weren’t masterpieces. Tippett figured his players just wanted to get the Italy game over with and move on to the next one.

That next one was an entertaining showdown with Sweden that Ryan Ellis won in overtime on a patient passing play by Scheifele.

“The Sweden game I was really proud of our guys the way we hung in there,” Tippett said. “That was a big win for us.”

Beating Norway in a tight one two days later clinched first place in the group, but most importantly to Tippett it was a game that didn’t let his players slip into bad habits.

That victory — Canada’s sixth in a row — happening in regulation, combined with Latvia’s loss to Switzerland, lined up the quarter-final matchup against Finland. Had the Canadians put up the same kind of effort against Belarus, Latvia or the United States, they could still be playing.

But a couple of ill-timed third period mistakes led to a blown lead, elimination and a time-honoured hockey lesson.

“How important it is to play all the way through three periods in these single-elimination games,” alternate captain Kyle Turris said. “Anything can happen.”

At this tournament, the pattern has been far too similar in recent years for Canada.

A 5-1-1 preliminary round in 2013 gave way to a shootout loss to Sweden, just as 6-0-1 in 2012 led to a one-goal loss to Slovakia. In 2011 Canada won all five of its group-play games before losing by a goal to Russia, and it wasn’t that close in the last Olympic year, a three-goal loss to Russia.

This was a different cast of characters than each of those, and these were different circumstances for general manager Rob Blake and his staff and then Tippett and his.

“This year was certainly a challenge because of when the tournament started and the NHL season ending when it did,” Tippett said. “So there was certainly a challenge that way this year with players being off for three weeks. The tournament started later because of the Olympic break.”

That made it difficult to attract stars. In 2010, Corey Perry was the only gold-medal-winning Olympian back, and this team had none.

But like in 2006 (Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards and Brent Seabrook) and 2010 (John Tavares and Matt Duchene), the 2014 Canadian world-championship team could offer a glimpse of 2018 if NHL players play in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Nathan MacKinnon is on track for the world cup of hockey, and Huberdeau and Morgan Rielly might join him.

Unlike Russia, which has seven Olympians back from Sochi trying to make up for that flame out, Canada didn’t bring a team to Minsk that was expected to be dominant. For a while, it was, but that wasn’t much consolation in the moments after losing to Finland.

“There’s high expectations for this country, and we had a team that played really well the whole tournament, finished first in our division,” captain Kevin Bieksa said. “Obviously the expectations were to go a little bit further, so we’re disappointed.”

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

Just Posted

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

Saanich police used a drone to investigate a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal West Saanich Road crash

Driver who died veered across center line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read