“I think actually, we had tougher games against the Czechs and Russians,” Ronnberg said. “Those games were tougher for us to control. I think they play better offensively than Canada did tonight.”
Did he really just rank two teams who fought to avoid the relegation round as more difficult games than the thriller he just witnessed?
Clearly, this guy doesn’t worry about bulletin board material. Politically correct coach-speak, be damned.
And now the Canadians, destined for a quarterfinal game on Sunday, have the much more perilous path to travel before getting another crack at Ronnberg and the Tre Kronor. The dream of a Canada-U.S. gold-medal final is dead.
Oscar Lindberg and Swedish captain Anton Lander beat Canadian goalie Olivier Roy in the shootout. Brayden Schenn and Ryan Ellis were turned aside by Swedish goalie Robin Lehner.
“I thought Ellie and I made some good moves but it didn’t work out and that’s a goalie with no holes,” Schenn said. “You hate losing in the shootout but you just have to put it behind you. Now, we’re playing for keeps the rest of the tournament.
“We’ll think about this for 30 minutes, then move on and get ready for the next one.”
It was Canada’s first shootout loss in world junior history. They were 4-0 before big Lehner slammed the door.
Cameron has seen this team work on the breakaway exercise every day in practice. Are they good at it?
“Not today,” he said.
Schenn and Ellis were the right picks to take the shots, according to Canada’s two-goal man Curtis Hamilton.
“Those are our guys,” he said. “They’re the ones we want shooting in that situation. We felt confident. We felt good. It just didn’t work out. You don’t want to lose like that.”
Roy, 3-0 in Quebec league shootouts this year, couldn’t get the handle on Lindberg and Lander’s backhand tries.
“I thought (Olivier) caught them with his glove,” Canadian forward Ryan Johansen said. “I was standing up on the bench cheering because I thought he had them, but obviously, the puck trickled over the line.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now.”
The Canadians couldn’t hold leads. The Swedes kept coming back.
Nashville Predators prospect Patrick Cehlin forced overtime with a dazzling individual effort with 8:17 left in the third. That negated Schenn’s power-play goal — his seventh tally of the tournament.
The Canadians carried a 3-2 lead into the first intermission thanks to some good fortune. Hamilton scored his first of two goals with 0.5 seconds left after Johansen’s desperate blast bounced off the glass and right in front of the Swedish net.
The Saskatoon Blades forward’s second goal, a shorthanded effort in the second, went in off his skate and was approved after video review.
“My goals weren’t pretty ones,” Hamilton said. “When you get some breaks, you feel things are going your way and you’re going to win.”
You get that destiny feeling. But someone forgot to tell Ronnberg’s crew.
The Swedes scored twice in the first three minutes of the second period to pull ahead 4-3. They absorbed every big hit from the Canadians, shut out the crowd noise and kept digging themselves out of holes.
They did it without Kitchener Rangers captain Gabriel Landeskog, still out with an ankle sprain. The Canadians were without Zack Kassian, who’s a free man after his two-game ban, and Jaden Schwartz.
“To beat a great team like Canada is huge for us,” Swedish defenceman Tim Erixon said. “They’re an awesome team. Very skilled. We just kept on the pressure and we didn’t get worried.”
Now, it’s Canada’s time to worry.
Things aren’t going as planned in Buffalo for the home team away from home.
The Swedes aren’t scared anymore, and based on what their coach thinks, didn’t really get that much of a battle from the Canadians.
The Swedes have swagger.
The Canadians better locate theirs again in an awful hurry.
WORLD JUNIOR TOURNAMENT
Friday at HSBC Arena
Sweden 6, Canada 5
(Sweden wins shootout 2-0)
Sweden goals: Carl Klingberg (2), Max Friberg, Jesper Thornberg, Patrik Cehlin
Canada goals: Curtis Hamilton (2), Sean Couturier, Quinton Howden, Brayden Schenn
Next: The Canadians face a quarterfinal game on Sunday. Opponent to be determined.
CANADA IN SHOOTOUTS
(Canadian history in world junior shootouts)
Dec. 31, 2010: Sweden 6, Canada 5. Oscar Lindberg scores winner.
Dec. 31, 2009: Canada 4, United States 3. Brandon Kozun scores winner.
Jan. 3, 2009: Canada 6, Russia 5. Jordan Eberle scores winner.
Jan. 3, 2007: Canada 2, United States 1. Jonathan Toews scores winner.
Jan. 4, 2000: Canada 4, United States 3. Brandon Reid scores winner.