Canada rules again

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

TORONTO -- A Canadian flag was draped across the dressing-room floor, with the World Cup standing in the middle. In a back room, the players quietly celebrated. And the words scrawled on the message board told the story: "Practice cancelled tomorrow ... no one else left to beat." Canada remains No. 1 in the hockey world -- Olympic champions and now World Cup champions after last night's 3-2 win over Finland at the Air Canada Centre.

Phoenix winger Shane Doan scored a typical, perhaps fitting, hard-working Canadian goal 34 seconds into the third period that turned out to be the winner.

On the strength of a two-point performance from centre Joe Thornton -- who did a lot of digging in the corner on the winner -- along with goals from Joe Sakic and Scott Niedermayer, Canada remains at the top of the hockey world.

"It was four great weeks of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything," said Thornton.

"It always feels great to win championships," said Canadian captain Mario Lemieux. "You grow up dreaming about winning the Stanley Cup. It's always very special to win a world championship and go through a lot of adversity. This has been a long journey.

"To be able to win a Cup is great for everyone involved. This ranks pretty high."

While there is plenty of uncertainty with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire at midnight, Canadians had reason to celebrate as their hockey heroes finished the tourney with a 6-0 record.

Give the Finns credit. They gave it all they had last night and proved to be a formidable foe.

Canada just proved to be too strong.

The Canadian team picked by executive director Wayne Gretzky never trailed in this tournament.

"This is pretty nice for our country. This is a special group of players," said Gretzky. "This was a tremendous tournament for these guys.

"When we got up in this game and we had our best players playing strong defensive hockey, I knew it was going to be pretty tough for the Finns to come back.

"The good thing is our young players played well and a lot of these guys are going to be with Canada for years to come."

This game didn't go the way Canada would have scripted it. After Canada took a 2-1 lead on goals by Niedermayer and Lemieux, the Finns tied it late in the second period with a solo effort by Tuomu Ruutu.

That must have sent shock waves through this country. But it will be nothing like the feeling of emptiness when the start of training camp is officially cancelled early tomorrow.

Ruutu undressed Niedermayer, Simon Gagne and Brad Richards by using his speed to chip the puck off the boards and then skated through everybody to beat Martin Brodeur on the glove side with only one minute left in the period.

'BITTERSWEET'

"The experience feels just as good right now as it did in Salt Lake City," said Canadian coach Pat Quinn. "This is bittersweet. These are difficult circumstances to win under (with the CBA expiring). We know what is ahead of us.

"This was a wonderful experience and the World Cup is a tremendous feat. Tomorrow, it will be sour."

"I'm proud of this group," said Finland coach Raimo Summanen. "The attitude throughout this tournament was great. We made some mistakes. We could play better, but I'm proud of these players. The Canadian team deserved to win. What a hockey team. I really respect the hockey in Canada."

Canada 3

Finland 2 


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