Canada defended their gold medal in men’s hockey on Sunday morning, defeating Sweden 3-0 to close out the Sochi Games.
Canadians home and abroad celebrated the performance as soon as the final buzzer went, including former Team Canada captain Scott Niedermayer.
The Cranbrook native has twice won the same honour, first in Salt Lake City in 2002, and then four years ago in Vancouver as team captain.
Retiring from professional hockey in 2010, the Hall of Fame defenceman said he was proud of the team for defending the gold.
“It was different, a lot more relaxing [this time],” said Niedermayer, referring to the tense 3-2 overtime win over the Americans in 2010.
“I got up in the morning to watch the game and enjoyed it. The team played well. I know during the tournament, there were some questions about certain parts of the game, but you could tell the players were really buying in to what they were trying to do and they stuck with it.
“Really, that’s the name of the game. Once you start questioning what the team’s game plan is, or you’re not buying into it—even if it’s just a couple guys—that’s when things really go sideways.”
Even though there were concerns over Team Canada’s offensive struggles, the squad only gave up three goals all tournament, and never trailed anyone on the scoreboard.
“The goalies did their job, made the saves when they had to. I felt earlier in the U.S. game that [Carey] Price made some strong saves, just looked solid,” said Niedermayer.
“I think players can tell that, they feel that he’s ready, he’s in the game and they can trust him, and it looked to me that he did that.”
With shutouts in the semifinal and the final, the Canadians demonstrated that defence really does win championships. Not only did Team Canada have a suffocating defensive strategy throughout the lineup, but defencemen Drew Doughty (4G 2A) and Shea Weber (3G 2A) led the team in scoring.
With such an abundance of offensive talent, from Sidney Crosby to Corey Perry to Jeff Carter, concerns about scoring struggles were certainly warranted.
However, it’s the end result that matters.
“The big ice is always a bit of a challenge for Canadians and maybe Americans a bit,” added Niedermayer. “It’s a different game. Sometimes it’s difficult to play the more North American style—dump and chase and being as aggressive as you can be on the smaller ice.