Russia Blazes its Way to Gold at WorldsPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Although the Capitals’ 2011-12 season came to a halt more than a week ago, some members of the organization have been playing hockey in various parts of the world since. At season’s end, Caps forwards Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom flew to Europe to help their respective national teams in the annual IIHF World Hockey Championship, held this year in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. Representing Russia, Ovechkin and Semin came away with gold medals on Sunday when Team Russia downed Team Slovakia 6-2 in the gold medal game at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. The Russians are the IIHF World champs for the first time since 2009. Russia dominated the tourney, winning each of its 10 games and taking them all in regulation time. The 2012 Russians are the first team to achieve that feat in the IIHF World Championship since the 1989 Russians. Slovokia won the silver medal and the Czech Republic defeated Finland to earn the bronze. Semin had two goals and an assist and Ovechkin had two assists in the championship game against the Slovaks. Each of the Caps’ two Russian forwards played three games in the tournament. Semin totaled two goals and five points and was a plus-4 while Ovechkin finished with two goals and four points and a plus-5. Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov – the team’s first-round choice (26th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – registered two goals and six points to go along with a plus-3 rating in 10 games for Team Russia at the 2012 World Championship tournament. Backstrom played in two games at the World Championship before Team Sweden was eliminated, recording one assist. The 2013 IIHF World Championship tournament will also be held in Finland and Sweden, but next year the round-robin games will be played in Helsinki and the finals in Stockholm. Over on this side of the pond, Caps prospect Stan Galiev is playing in the Memorial Cup finals for the second time in as many seasons. Last spring, Galiev totaled 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) to finish fifth in the QMJHL in playoff scoring. He helped the Saint John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup title in 2011. The Caps’ third-round (86th overall) choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Galiev missed much of the 2011-12 regular season with a wrist injury, but managed to total 13 goals and 19 points in the 20 regular season games in which he did play for Saint John. The 20-year-old left wing has piled up 16 goals and 34 points in just 17 playoff games this spring. Galiev’s Sea Dogs dropped their first game in the 2012 Memorial Cup finals to the London Knights. Saint John is back in action tonight against the Edmonton Oil Kings, the 2012 champions of the Western Hockey League.
Caps forward Matt Hendricks plays the game of hockey with a great deal of courage. He’s not at all shy to throw his body in front of a hard slap shot from the point, he’s fearless going into the corners after the puck, and he is not at all reticent to drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate.