Russia gets 'dream final'

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

QUEBEC CITY -- Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians have won just one world hockey championship and that was in 1993.

With a 4-0 win over Finland here yesterday, however, the Russians are back in the gold-medal game for the first time since losing 4-3 to Slovakia in Goteborg, Sweden, in 2002.

To have a Canada-Russia final for the 100th anniversary of the IIHF and the first world championship in this country "is a dream, I think, for both teams," Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov said.

Alexander Ovechkin said he's not personally going to make this about Russian history, however.

"I play for my country and my people. I know all of Russia will be watching this game. But right now I don't care about history, I just want to play on the day," he said of tomorrow's gold-medal game.

Ovechkin said he loves the idea of playing Canada in Canada. He did it once before when Russia beat Canada in the final of the 2003 world junior championship in Halifax.

"That was unbelievable. It was a great feeling to beat Canada in Canada for the gold," Ovechkin said.

Goaltender Evgeny Nabokov said you can't understate how big this is for Russian hockey.

It was satisfying enough to beat Finland to get to the gold-medal game. Last year at the world championships in Moscow, the Finns upset the Russians 2-1 in overtime, only to lose to Canada for the gold.

"Last year we made a couple of mistakes and we didn't get to the final," Ovechkin said. "This year we didn't want to make the same mistakes."

The score ended up 4-0 in this one and Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu proved a liability for the Finns. Koivu turned the puck over inside his own blue line to create a 3-on-1 with the wrong three guys.

Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov combined on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with Fedorov scoring 13 minutes into the first period. A backchecking mistake left Andrei Markov feeding Denius Zaripov uncovered at the side of the net for a 2-0 lead early in the second period. It was over when Koivu came off the bench early to bring on a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

A goal by Alexei Morozov on the power play and an empty-netter by Mamim Sushinskiy and the Russsians had booked passage to the final.

Finland coach Doug Shedden, a Canadian, said the Canada-Russia final is a game he wants to watch.

"It'll be one hell of a hockey game," he said. "There's no clear winner."

Shedden has lost to both teams in this tournament.

"There's no embarrassment losing to this team," said Shedden of the Russians.


Photos