Following Canada's gold medal victory over Sweden May 11, IHWC.NET caught up with key players, coaches and managers from both sides to get their reactions to one of the most heartstopping hockey games ever witnessed at the IIHF World Championships.
Anson Carter, Canada: "It's hard to express how I feel right now. It's three or four long weeks of hard work the boys put in, showing the commitment to come over here and play for our country on the bigger ice surface. We come to a tremendous country like Finland, where the people treated us first-class, and now we get to bring home the gold medal. Mission accomplished. I saw the puck go in, but you know, at the same time, my opinion doesn't really count. It's the guys upstairs and the referee who make the decision. I was sure glad the puck went in because I twisted my knee in the celebration, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to continue with the game. But yeah, I saw it cross the goal line. I was able to beat Tellqvist with my shot after he came across the goal crease for the initial shot. It's incredible seeing the joy in guys' faces winning the World Championships for the first time. It's an awesome feeling. It wasn't really that nerve-wracking (during the goal review) because I saw it go in. You just hope the people upstairs see the same thing, and we're pretty fortunate as Canadians that they did. Now we have the gold medal."
Kris Draper, Canada: "Roberto Luongo had to come up with some huge saves for us. We had some good pressure, but it was a tremendous hockey game, and it's just a great feeling to be able to call yourselves gold medallists and obviously world champs. Sweden is a tremendous hockey team, and you don't get to the finals without being a great hockey team. They played some unbelievable hockey. They played us hard, we played them hard, and it goes into overtime. And we know in sudden-death OT anything can happen. It was just great that we got that call (from the referee on the overtime winner) and the goal is in for us. It was a long night playing against Peter Forsberg. What a great hockey player, probably the best in the world. It's a big responsibility against guys like this. It was our line going against them plus strong defense and goaltending. We were able to keep Forsberg off the scoreboard. That's how we contributed. Our team chemistry was unbelievable. We came together as a team in less than three weeks. I think that's a credit to our coaching staff and our general managers in terms of the character players they picked. There was talk that maybe this wasn't the most talented team that Canada has brought over to represent our country, but we got the job done. Everyone had the belief in one another that we could do this. It wasn't a matter of just one guy stepping up, the whole team contributed. And right now we're the gold medallists, and the gold tastes good!"
Daniel Briere, Canada: "There's no red line over here and there's a lot more breakaways. More open plays. I'm not sure about the big ice surface, because it's hard to forecheck. Even if you get a turnover down deep sometimes, you're far away from the goal. I'm not convinced about that, but it was definitely a good time and a different kind of hockey playing over here. I haven't had the chance to call home yet, but I'm definitely going to call my wife. The last month of the season, I was with the Phoenix Coyotes and then I was traded, so I didn't get to see my wife and three kids for the last five weeks of the season. Then Team Canada asked me to come here. I went home for five days to spend with the kids before coming over, and I haven't seen them in another four weeks. You know what? This is for them, for giving me the chance to come over here. I can't wait to get home and see my family again."
Shane Doan, Canada: "Ladislav Nagy and Branko Radivojevic, we were teasing those (Slovak and fellow Phoenix Coyote teammate) guys. We wanted them in the final. We were hoping to play them because of the personal rivalry. And we'll definitely have bragging rights now. They got a medal but it wasn't quite as nice as ours. I'm pretty sure it'll be mentioned in the dressing room throughout the year and the rest of my career with or against those guys. It's fun. They had a great team, and as much as you'd want to play against a team like that, you're scared of them too."
Steve Tambellini, General Manager, Canada: "We had an unbelievable commitment from some of the best players available to us that were either out of the NHL playoffs or knocked out of the playoffs. And they showed a determination and pride for wearing the Canadian jersey that I haven't seen probably since Salt Lake. But for these players to play so proud and so determined was a great example for any other Canadian that puts on that jersey. Our philosophy was to take the very best players available. I think one of the most important things was that we had leadership from people that have been here before. People like Sean Burke, Kris Draper, Anson Carter and Ryan Smyth, who were instrumental in making sure that the players understood the process of the World Championships. It's much different than the day-to-day NHL. These players showed exceptional heart. They couldn't have represented Canada better than what they did tonight. I think there was a high level of skill, toughness, confidence, and poise, because they understood what it meant. There were so many players that said yes right away to coming over, that it was so easy to put this team together. There were problems in the past, but this year it was a quick phone call and done in ten minutes. Very few refused. These players wanted to come and represent their country. I couldn't be happier. I think people understand the process, and there's momentum. There's nothing more important than playing for your country. As NHL players, their profession is different, to work every day and win a Stanley Cup. But it's a different emotional level when you get a chance to represent your country. There's a reason why there are players who are better when they're playing for their home country than you see in the NHL. I think it's about accountability and responsibility. Personally, for my father to win a World Championship, for my son to be involved in an Under-18 World Championship for Canada, and for myself to be part of winning a World Championship, it's very special to our family."
Andy Murray, Head Coach, Canada: "Today was a prime example of why hockey is the best sport in the world. The emotion, the physicality, the skilled play and the goaltending. It was a tremendous game and very emotionally draining. I think it's going to take me a month to recover. Sweden deserved to be in the final game. They are a very skilled team and very well coached. It was a tremendous experience to be a part of this game and it was a privilege to be a part of it today. It took the referee a long time to make his decision, so it must have been close. Anson Carter is great. It was a tremendous goal that will give him a lifetime of memories. He's a good player. Finland has been very good to me as a coach. We've had tremendous support here. I will remember forever this moment. To say one victory (1997) is better than the other is impossible."
P-J Axelsson, Sweden: "It took a long time to see if the goal was in. I've never seen that before, but obviously they took their time and they saw that the puck was in. It's a strange way to end a hockey but you know, you don't think that much about it. You just hope that the puck isn't in, and you sit there and wait. (The overtime format) is exciting for the fans. That's why we play hockey. We play for the fans. I don't know how the Swedish public will react to this result. I think you'd better ask them! I think we played all right. It was two good teams out there playing hard, and both teams had a lot of great chances. There were two very good goalies out there too."
Hardy Nilsson, Head Coach, Sweden: "Today was very disappointing, especially the way we lost. So far I'm not convinced that the puck was 100 percent across the line. I will have to see it on film before I feel like we 100 percent lost. We played very well all 73 minutes. We knew we would be playing against the best team in the final game. They are very solid on defense and very good offensively too."
Mikael Tellqvist, Sweden: "I think (Carter) had a bit of a lucky bounce, because the puck came right back to his stick and he could go around the net and put it in the side. I'm really disappointed. It's always tough to lose a two-goal lead, but after 20 minutes, there's still 40 minutes of hockey left. Maybe if you lead 4-0 or 5-0 at first, you can be a little more secure and even play a little defensively. But Canada's got a great offensive team and they came back and scored and got it done in OT. Everybody's disappointed, but maybe after a while we'll be happier, because we came back against Finland, and we beat a good team in Slovakia. So maybe in a couple of days we're going to be happy. But right now it's really low in the dressing room. I think the 4-on-4 overtime is pretty good. I'd rather see a game decided in regulation or OT than with penalty shots. Of course, I'm pleased that I was able to come in and get a chance to play with the Swedish national team. It's always an honor. But right now I'm really disappointed we lost against Canada."
Mats Sundin, Sweden: "We had our chances but they hung in there. We had many chances to win, especially at the end of the third period. Canadian teams always have pride. They're very proud to play for their country, but I think it's in the same way that we are proud to represent Sweden."
Peter Forsberg, Sweden: "I think 4-on-4 is used to get more goals in overtime. I think you see 4-on-4 in overtime because they don't want to have to go to a shootout."