We are the best

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

When it was crunch time, Canada came to the fore. It is now the trademark of this country's hockey, the catchphrase being, "Losing is not an option."

Finland played a gritty game against Team Canada last night, finishing the first period at 1-1 and the second at 2-2.

But then Shane Doan, the stereotypical Canadian hockey player, put Canada in front 34 seconds into the third period.

After that, it was just a matter of who wanted the World Cup championship more.

It would be wrong to think, even for a second, that the Finns rolled over. Far from it. But they were knocked over a few times.

Those occasions arose whenever they got between a Canadian player and the puck.

As their coach, Raimo Summanen said: "I'm proud of our spirit. The attitude all through the tournament was great. We made some mistakes, we can play better. I know that. But I'm proud of my players."

The problems began, he said: "When the Canadian team started forechecking hard."

And that really started after Doan's goal.

SHUT THINGS DOWN

"It was disappointing when they scored late in the second period," Kris Draper said.

"Then when Doaner scored, I think everyone said, 'Okay, that's it. Let's just go out and shut this down.' To our credit, we were able to do that."

At a time like that, when a hockey championship is on the line and it's just a matter of playing your heart out, Canadian heritage is such that there is no real question of what will happen next.

Losing is not an option.

When Team Canada opened the scoring in the first minute of the game, Finland saw no sense in playing a purely defensive game and went to the attack.

As a result, the fans saw a few minutes of exciting hockey.

But when the Finns were rewarded for their efforts with Riku Hahl's tying goal at 6:34, they went back to concentrating on defence and the game bogged down.

Still, the Finns produced the prettiest and nicest goal of the night when they tied the score at 2-2 in the final minute of the second period.

Tuomo Ruutu charged down the right side and beat Brad Richards, Simon Gagne and Scott Niedermayer before adding goaltender Martin Brodeur to the list of those he had beaten.

But that was before the third period. Once the situation got serious, there were no more half-hearted checks.

"We are a very confident group," Jarome Iginla said. "Before the game, we knew it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be a grind, they're a very determined team.

"But when they scored to tie it up late in the second, there was no panic in our room. You look around and you see guys like Mario (Lemieux), Joe (Sakic), Nieds (Niedermayer). All the guys were relaxed."

They were relaxed because they were confident. They've been through it before and they know they can do it. Iginla pointed out something else they know.

They have faith in Brodeur.

"You're pretty confident when you have a great goalie," Iginla said. "And we had great goaltending throughout the tournament. It makes you confident because you know that if there is the odd breakdown, he is going to be there. He has been in so many big situations."

The Canadians took short shifts so that they could go at full speed.

They sacrificed their bodies for the cause. They threw themselves in front of pucks and at the Finns.

And now, they are world champions, Olympic champions and World Cup champions.

As the sign in the dressing room said: "Practice is cancelled tomorrow. No one else left to beat."


Videos

Photos